VietJet Air (VJ) a low-cost carrier in Vietnam has been fined by the country's Civil Aviation Administration for holding an unauthorized parade of bikini-clad beauty queens aloft.
The incident happened on one of its Airbus A320-200 planes, operating as flight VJ-8858, an 8:10 p.m. departure from Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon, to Nha Trang, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam on the South China Sea, as reported on Friday, August 10, 2012 by KXXV-TV, Free Malaysia Today, The Jakarta Globe, and other news sources.
The privately-owned airline, which began flying last year on December 25, 2011, operates a fleet of 3 Airbus A320-200 jets.
It was fined 20 million Vietnamese dong (VND), the equivalent of about $960 U.S. dollars for staging the promotion on Friday, August 3, 2012, which was a big hit with passengers, and has gone viral on YouTube.
During the 3-minute inflight entertainment, which coincided with the inaugural flight to the beach resort city of some 392,279 inhabitants, the site of the strategic Nha Trang Air Base during the Vietnam War, a bevy of 5 attractive young women strutted through the narrow-body jet's cabin, accompanied by a catchy dance tune "I'm Crazy For Banana", wearing red bikini tops, throwing kisses at the cheering, mostly male passengers, and handing out stuffed Teddy bears.
The airline protested the penalty, saying that they were in compliance with all safety regulations, and also confirmed that the ladies, all beauty contestants, were paid for their short high-altitude performance.
The U.S. had fought a bitter war in Vietnam from 1960 to 1975 in which 58,269 members of the military were killed, another 153,303 were wounded, and 1,664 were listed as missing in action (MIA). Relations between the two countries have since been normalized. Many former members of the armed forces have returned to visit Vietnam, as part of their hearing process.
Public opinion in the conservative country over the bikini parade was mixed, following the spread of photos and videos online.
According to Nguyen Trong Thang, chief inspector with the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, "The airline violated local aviation regulations by organizing an unapproved show on a flight." The official did admit that using mobile devices to record the bikini models during the flight did not present a safety risk, as the phones were in flight-safe mode.
The passengers on that plane took with them happy memories, and some cute plush Teddy bears as souvenirs, an experience which a familiar credit card commercial might regard as "priceless."
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