Actress Nicole Kidman takes heat from flight attendants over her latest role

A flight attendants union says Etihad and the United Arab Emirates treats women poorly

Actress Nicole Kidman is drawing fire from flight attendants for her latest role as the face of Etihad Airways, the state-owned carrier of United Arab Emirates. But there may be more to this story than meets the eye.

Kidman, who was named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for women in 2006, is featured in a new ad for Etihad that promotes the luxury and sophistication of the carrier.

The Assn. of Professional Flight Attendants say her UN work is at odds with what the group says is poor treatment of women by Etihad and the United Arab Emirates, where men are allowed to physically discipline their wives.

“The APFA must respectfully ask that you — as a leading advocate for women around the globe — not lend your voice, your image and your good name to Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline in the UAE,” the flight attendants said in an open letter to Kidman.

Only a week earlier, the same flight attendants union took a shot at Etihad for another reason.

The group complained that Etihad and two other Persian Gulf carriers unfairly compete with U.S.-based airlines by relying heavily on subsidies from their government owners. They have urged the U.S. government to restrict the carrier’s access to American airports.

Responding to the criticism of Kidman, Etihad said the airline treats all workers fairly and recently received a 93% approval rating from its employees in an independent survey.

“Our commitment to the welfare, safety and well-being of the diverse group of men and women who have worked so hard to make Etihad Airways great is one of our airline’s top priorities,” Etihad said.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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