Thai airline calendar under fire

Last updated 14:37 15/02/2013

TOO HOT: The cover image from the Nok Air calendar features models dressed in yellow bikinis - the signature colour of the airline.

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A Thai airline has come under fire from the country's government for releasing a calendar featuring scantily clad models.

Low-cost carrier Nok Air released a calendar of models from Maxim magazine posing with its aircraft.

Thailand's Ministry of Culture Permanent Secretary, Prisana Pongtatpitakkul, criticised the airline for using women's bodies to sell itself.

"The calendar shows that several business operators still adhere to conventional practices in using female bodies as the PR or marketing tool," she told Thai newspaper The Nation.

"They lack the sense of social and cultural responsibility and ignore social and cultural repercussions - particularly female dignity."

Nok Air's CEO Patee Sarasin defended the calendar in an interview with CNN, saying that people were exposed to similar images on a daily basis in the media.

"The airline business has always been seen as sexy globally, that is why our planes - we believe they are well designed - appropriately become the background of these models."

Although critical of the calendar, the Culture Ministry has no powers to take action over it. The minister told The Nation that it would soon be opening a discussion with media, advertising and consumer protection agencies to address the issue.

Despite its booming sex trade, Thailand is a conservative country that often censors nudity on television and in print. Last week the Culture Ministry expressed anger over a TV sketch on US comedy show Saturday Night Live that made fun of the country's reputation for sex tourism.

Nok Air is not the first airline to use semi-naked women to promote itself. European low-cost carrier Ryanair has repeatedly been criticised for its annual "Girls of Ryanair" charity calendar, which features flight attendants.

In 2010 the Russian airline Aeroflot released a calendar to its VIP customers featuring naked women posing with aircraft, while the previous year America's Southwest came under fire for painting a bikini-clad model on one of its planes as part of a promotion with Sports Illustrated.

Flight attendants who lost their jobs when Mexican carrier Mexicana went bankrupt in 2010 released a calendar to draw attention to their unpaid entitlements. The calendar was such a success they released a second calendar in 2011 with support from the flight attendants' union and also posed for Playboy magazine.


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