Pujobroto, the flagship carrier’s corporate secretary, said the routine medical examination that formed part of the recruitment process did not involve a breast examination.
“It is not true that we have hired a … doctor to give breast examinations to check whether or not applicants have breast implants,” he said.
The applicant for a cabin crew position in South Korea, who requested that her name not be published, said dozens of candidates for 18 highly coveted female flight attendant positions with Garuda were required to strip down to their panties so a doctor, who was male, could check for tattoos and breast implants.
A Garuda official was quoted by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency as saying, “The breast examination by hand was done since those with implants can have health issues when air pressure falls during flights.”
He went on to say that cabin crew are banned from having tattoos, and workers hired oversees, including in Japan and Australia, were subject to a similar process.
A spokesman for Garuda’s Seoul office said the medical tests should have followed routine procedures, which did not include breast examinations.
“We are investigating the matter by questioning managers and the doctor who was in charge of the checkups,” Park Sung-hyun said.
“This is very embarrassing.”
But a Garuda spokesman, Ikhsan Rosan, denied all this, including the claim that applicants were naked during the exam.
“We’ve checked with our Korean office and they said such an examination never happened,” he said, adding that they would investigate further if deemed necessary.
Pujobroto also said the physical checks were performed by a trusted team of Garuda doctors from Indonesia.
“All doctors are assisted by a female Korean staff member during the examination,” he said, adding that five of the 27 Korean applicants failed the test. He did not give the reason.
The news has baffled industry peers and angered women’s rights groups, which called the process intrusive.
“We’ve never heard of or done such a checkup on flight attendants,” said a spokesman for Korean Air, calling the Jakarta-based airline’s tests “bizarre.”
“I wonder if that means passengers with breast implants should not fly also,” he said.
Mariana Amiruddin, editor in chief of women’s rights magazine Jurnal Perempuan, said such examinations were unwarranted.
“For me, this is such a weird and unnecessary medical checkup requirement,” she said.
Garuda is expanding its services to the North Asian country, which has a large number of expatriates living in Indonesia.