A Vietnamese woman became the first female self-made billionaire of South East Asia — by launching a “bikini airline.”
Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, CEO of Vietnamese carrier VietJet Air, attained the new status late this March after staffing her airline with bikini-clad flight attendants.
Although Thao made her first million at the age of 21 selling fax machines and latex rubber, the dice really started rolling in for her when she launched the airline with a unique dress code for the flight attendants. In just a few years, the Vietnam native was able to secure 30% of the company share.
Interestingly, Thao insists the uniform empowers women in Vietnam, a country known for its conservative stance about females.
"You have the right to wear anything you like, either the bikini or the traditional ao dai," she told Bloomberg, referring to the traditional long tunic worn over loose pants. "We don’t mind people associating the airline with the bikini image. If that makes people happy, then we are happy. As a businesswoman, I have a responsibility to contribute to the economy and to push for positive changes of the country and in the society, in light of the international integration that's happening."
Ironically, the company not only profits from its air tickets, but also from its titillating calendars featuring scantily clad models in various provocative poses.
The internet slammed the VietJet for objectifying women after one of its models leaked some images from a promotional photo shoot.
@Heather_Poole its just gets people talking about the airline, and it works as we are talking about it, but its a very cheap way of doing it— christopher reed (@chrisreedy5) September 21, 2014
@ahnafrudin Today we will be discussing the whole bikini flight attendants of Vietjet airlines and women empowerment. 😄😄— Rakyat | Netusha (@twt_malaysia) April 14, 2016
Vietnam’s Bikini Airline VietJet Air – Where The Stewardesses Slip Into Bikinis To Keep Profits From Slipping Too!— CHAOSTROPHIC (@CHAOSTROPHICCOM) April 13, 2016
so i heard VietJet, a private airline in Vietnam uses bikini-clad flight attendants? Smh have some self respect ladies such a pity— bell (@lisabell_anne) April 12, 2016
Apparently, putting models in less-than-modest clothes is fast becoming a trend in east Asia. A few months ago, China came under fire for forcing its flight attendants to sport a swimsuit and strut on the catwalk for an annual photo shoot.
VietJet is planning to go global in the next three months. Let’s see what all the world has to say about that.