Vietnamese airline fined after U23 team treated to in-flight bikini show

By Doan Loan   January 30, 2018 | 02:58 am PT
Vietnamese airline fined after U23 team treated to in-flight bikini show
Vietnam's U23 national football players team walk down from the VietJet flight that carried them back home from China on Sunday after the AFC U23 Championship. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong
Authorities said VietJet did not ask for permission to organize the show, which could have threatened the flight's safety.

Private budget airline VietJet will be fined for “threatening aviation safety” after models stripped down to bikinis on a flight carrying Vietnam’s U23 national football team home on Sunday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has said it will fine the carrier VND40 million ($1,700) and the chief flight attendant VND4 million.

Inspectors from the ministry of culture and CAAV were sent to verify photos and videos on Monday that show several models wearing bikinis and touching and posing for photos with the Vietnamese players on their flight home after the final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Championship on Saturday.

Most social media users said the performance was distasteful and against Vietnamese traditions, said the ministry.

Dinh Viet Thang from the CAAV said VietJet, which which has become known as the "bikini airline" for dressing its female crew in swimwear several times, had not asked for permission to hold a bikini show on the flight.

VietJet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, the first and only female billionaire in Vietnam, subsequently wrote a letter of apology to the Vietnam Football Federation, head coach Park Hang-seo, the players and Vietnamese football fans.

The bikini show was a “spontaneous act”, she said, adding that one of the models allowed herself to pose for photos with players and posted them on Facebook.

The founder of VietJet also said “the urgency of the flight, the harsh weather and the complicated procedures in China were among the reasons that led to the airline's mistakes.”

This is not the first time VietJet has played the bikini card, but the incident on Sunday occurred while the entire country was awaiting its returning heroes.

On Sunday morning, thousands gathered at Noi Bai Airport to watch the young players step off the plane after an impressive run at the AFC U23 Championship.

Vietnam is the first Southeast Asian team to make it to the final of the cup, and the players' spirit during the final in snowy conditions touched the hearts of many fans.

Most Facebook users said what the models did was "disrespectful" to the players, given their efforts throughout the tournament in China.

Others said what VietJet has been doing is “cheap” and “unacceptable,” and called for a boycott of the airline.

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