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Turkish Airlines backs down on red lipstick ban

Temel Kotil, president and CEO of Turkish Airlines speaking in London

Turkish Airlines has backed down on a rule banning its female flight attendants from wearing red lipstick and nail polish, its president and CEO confirmed.

The carrier caused an outcry earlier this week when it announced that flight attendants could not wear red lipstick or nail polish to keep its staff “well-groomed” and in line with its uniform.

Critics were concerned the airline was becoming too Islamic under its Government owners, but president and CEO Temel Kotil said the issue had not been confirmed by top management and will not be put into place.

“As to the lipstick, we had no problems but somehow low-level managers put together a paper without asking us and that paper leaked to the media and became a big issue,” said Kotil, speaking in London. “As you know, some in Turkey are a little bit keen about these issues. We are a great global carrier and we know what we are doing.”

While it seems it have made-up in this dispute the carrier is still to settle wages with a workers’ union. The Turk Hava Yollari AO union that represents 90% of its staff in Turkey is due to strike on 15 May after failing to receive a 10% wage increase and to re-employ some staff laid off last year.

Kotil said he hopes to come to a solution “soon” with the union, adding that its pilots and staff are paid the same wherever they are based.

“Salaries are good enough for the overseas pilots and we pay the same locally. They believe they deserve this increase and hopefully we can solve this soon,” he said.

The negative reports come as the airline continues to branch its network footprint globally.

It is currently eyeing up Glasgow and Belfast for potential new route launches into Istanbul, while it is due to launch flights from Gatwick to a second Istanbul airport, Sabiha Gökçen. It also plans to develop “Kangeroo” routes into Australasia in 2015.

With 214 aircraft and another 276 ordered, the carrier is taking advantage of its central location between Europe and Asia to grow.

“Every year we grow everywhere. We increase capacity because there is not enough there,” said Kotil. “The centre of gravity is real. We believe the world is in a transition and we are in the middle of a change that will drive hubs further east.”

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