Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has instructed cabin crew to lose weight or risk losing their jobs.

An internal memo sent to the airline's 1,800 staff instructs employees that those found to be 30 pounds (13 kilograms) over the weight limit from 31 January will be grounded and referred to the "Air Crew Medical Centre" for evaluation and treatment until their weight meets the desired BMI level.

"Henceforth, weight check of all the cabin crew will be carried out at their base stations respectively and comprehensive data will be maintained for perusal of management," the letter says.

The letter, signed by the airline's general manager of flight service Aamir Bashi, also outlines a schedule for a steady reduction in the limit from 30 pounds on 31 January to zero by July 2019.

Advertisement

This, in turn, means that staff even slightly over the desired weight could be precluded from doing their jobs by the middle of the year.

Staff who are on weight check are required to report to a monthly "grooming cell" before they can again be given clearance to fly.

PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar told Fox News that the update to the policy will require about 100 cabin crew members to shed weight by 1 July.

The letter shows how the policy will become stricter over time. Image/PIA.
The letter shows how the policy will become stricter over time. Image/PIA.

This is not the first time an airline has grounded staff for being overweight. In 2015, The Independent reported that Air India had stopped around 125 staff from flying after they failed to maintain the required weight. It also dismissed nine hostesses for being overweight in 2009.

During the 2015 grounding, the airline said that the weight restrictions were imposed due to the concern that "unfit" staff would not be able to operate efficiently in emergency situations.

Critics later called the move "ridiculous" and "shockingly sexist," with aviation industry consultant Mark Martin saying we seem to have lost the plot on what is needed from flight attendants.