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Company News

22 February 2017

Aeroflot comments on accusations of discrimination against staff

Moscow, 22 February – Aeroflot notes the publication of reports in international media containing allegations by members of its cabin crew of discrimination.

These allegations are without foundation. Aeroflot does not discriminate based on age, sex, weight, appearance, religious or political convictions, or indeed any other grounds.

Aeroflot therefore robustly denies these baseless allegations and will vigorously defend itself if any legal proceedings come to court.

In response to the specific allegations made in these articles, Aeroflot notes:

  • Aeroflot does not place geographical restrictions on where its cabin staff may fly;
  • Nor does Aeroflot restrict flight time for members of staff based on age or any other physical attributes, such as appearance;
  • The allegation that Aeroflot prevents members of cabin crew from taking their full holiday allowance is baseless;
  • The claim that the expert medical commission has been instructed to remove “old and ugly” cabin crew from flight duties is untrue.

Aeroflot is proud of having among the best cabin staff of any global airline. The Russian flag carrier’s on-board service has won numerous awards for excellence, and its cabin crew are regularly voted as some of the most stylish and professional in the world.

Information for media

Aeroflot acts at all times in accordance with Russian labour legislation, and in line with best international practice. We are an equal opportunities employer, and do not discriminate on the basis of appearance, age, race, gender, political or religious beliefs or indeed any other grounds.

Aeroflot has carried out an internal investigation following publication of the original article on RFE/RL. Our investigation conclusively shows that the allegations made to RFE/RL are without foundation. However, RFE/RL published the article before receiving an official answer to a request sent to Aeroflot’s press team.

In terms of the specific claims made in the article:

  • Aeroflot does not apply geographical restrictions on where members of cabin crew may fly. The member of cabin crew cited by RFE/RL, Evgenia Magurina, serves passengers on international and domestic flights, including to the US (for which she has a valid visa). Aeroflot has thoroughly investigated Ms Magurina’s claims and has found no evidence to support her allegation. Cabin crew contracts include no geographical restrictions. Hundreds of Aeroflot’s cabin crew are aged over 40 and regularly work on international flights to destinations in North America, Europe, Japan, China and elsewhere.
  • Aeroflot does not restrict flight time for members of staff based on age or any other physical attributes, such as appearance. Evgenia Magurina recorded 818 hours and 57 minutes of flight time in 2016. The standard norm is 800 hours, or up to 900 hours with the consent of the employee. As of 19 February 2017, Ms Magurina had recorded 125:18 flight hours for 2017.
  • The allegation that Aeroflot prevents members of cabin crew from taking their full holiday allowance is baseless. Evgenia Magurina was offered the opportunity to take her full vacation allowance for 2016 but refused to do so, saying that she would prefer to take two extra weeks in March 2017. Her written request for two weeks of vacation starting on March 1 was approved and confirmed to her in writing before RFE/RL published its article.     
  • The claim that the expert medical commission has been instructed to remove “old and ugly” cabin crew from flight duties is untrue. In 2016, only four members of cabin crew aged between 56 and 60 failed mandatory medical examinations allowing them to fly, while 98 passed and continue to serve on flights both internationally and within Russia.

Aeroflot therefore believes that the claims published by RFE/RL are baseless.

It is also not true that Evgenia Magurina was demoted. According to Aeroflot’s staff schedule, Ms Magurina is a member of cabin crew with division #1 of the Cabin Service Department, and is assigned duties as accordingly. During her time at Aeroflot, Ms Magurina has never held the position of a senior member of cabin crew (purser).

Aeroflot has exacting requirements for all staff based on the specific demands of their duties, where the priority is the comfort and safety of passengers. The principal selection criteria are communication skills, a friendly and approachable nature, knowledge of foreign languages and neat and tidy self-presentation.

Cabin crew are the face of any airline. Cabin crew of a national flag carrier are the calling card of their country. Their deportment and how they serve passengers creates the first impression of and attitude towards Russia. Aeroflot’s client loyalty scores place it ahead of many recognised industry leaders. In February 2017, Aeroflot was named as the world’s strongest airline brand in Brand Finance’s authoritative global ranking.

However, age is no limitation, especially if a candidate has relevant experience from another airline. The principal criterion in this case is experience and professional ability. For example, in 2015 and early 2016, Aeroflot took on more than 800 cabin crew from Transaero after that airline exited the market. All of them were experienced and qualified staff.

Aeroflot’s requirements for cabin crew can be found on the airline’s official website: https://www.aeroflot.ru/ru-ru/vac?department=138  (in Russian). One potential restricting factor is height. In the course of their duties, cabin crew are called upon to help passengers stow their hand luggage in overhead lockers. In this case, a member of staff must be able to freely reach to the back of the lockers.

Alongside exacting recruitment requirements, Aeroflot carries out ongoing monitoring of the quality of service provided by cabin crew, their emotional wellbeing and standards of appearance (including photographs in uniform, which is a generally accepted practice by HR teams worldwide).

In line with current legislation, staff may be subject to disciplinary action in the event that they do not carry out their duties properly. All such cases adhere strictly to established procedure. Aeroflot categorically does not use personal grounds, particularly such as an employee’s age, to apply financial penalties. Constructive observations regarding appearance, adherence to dress codes, application of make-up etc. may be made as part of regular training.

We would underscore that Aeroflot has traditionally been seen as one of the most attractive employers in Russia. In 2016, Aeroflot won the Randstad Award for best employer in the transport and logistics industry.

About Aeroflot

Aeroflot is Russia’s flagship carrier, a proud member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. Aeroflot and its partners serve 1,062 destinations in 177 countries worldwide. In 2016, Aeroflot carried 29 million passengers (43.4 million passengers as Aeroflot Group including subsidiaries).

In 2016 Aeroflot became the first Russian airline to be awarded Four Star Airline status by Skytrax in recognition of the high-quality of its customer service, and was also named Best Airline in Eastern Europe for the fifth time at the Skytrax World Airline Awards.

Aeroflot operates one of the youngest fleets in the world with 190 aircraft. Aeroflot is based in Moscow, at Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Aeroflot is among the global leaders in aviation safety, with a European Community Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) Index, the main globally recognized safety parameter, comparable to global peers.

The first Russian carrier to enter the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) register, renewing its registration for the sixth time in 2015, Aeroflot has successfully passed the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) and is fully ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004 compliant.

Find out more at www.aeroflot.com