Irish discount airline Ryanair has caused a stir in Europe with the publication of its Girls of Ryanair calendar, with feminist groups accusing the carrier of sexism.
You'll recall that Ryanair sparked a frenzy here this month after a news report suggested the airline would soon announce service from London and Dublin airports to Boston and other major US cities, with fares starting at about $13, not including taxes and fees (which would be considerable). The BBC later quoted airline executives as saying that it would likely be at least 12 to 18 months before any plans could be solidified.
The calendar, which features photographs of scantily-clad flight attendants posing in front of jet engines, fuel pumps and tool kits, drew heated criticism from a number of groups, including the Women's Institute, a government-run rights organization in Spain, where this year's calendar was shot, according to a report on the Spiegel Online.
"It is significant that only women are used, in a sector in which there is a considerable percentage of men," the group said in a statement quoted by Britain's Daily Mail.
Spokesman María Jesús Ortiz told the Daily Main that the images presented the women as "sexual objects.''
"We're not talking about morals or nudity here, it's simply how women are portrayed,'' she said. "If there had been men in the calendar I'm sure there would have been no controversy."
Ryanair apparently begs to differ.
"Once again Ryanair will continue to defend the right of girls to take their clothes off, particularly when it is for charity,'' Stephen McNamara, a Ryanair spokesman, said.
The carrier has also sent a copy to Swedish politician Birgitta Ohlsson, who recently launched an attack against a Ryanair ad, which used a model in a short top and mini skirt, and accused Ryanair of exploiting women.
According to the German news organization the Spanish group has complained to Irish and European authorities and is considering legal action against the airline.
More than 700 female workers reportedly applied to take part in the 2009 calendar, which expects to raise at least $125,000 for a Dublin homeless organization, the Simon Community.
So if they make it across the pond someday they'll do the same for the Pine Street Inn or Father Bill's Place?