Air New Zealand has again courted controversy with an in-flight safety video, this time featuring retro fitness guru Richard Simmons and a New Zealand broadcaster who quit breakfast television over racist remarks.
The new, Simmon-hosted 'Mile High Madness' video is the latest in a series of fun safety videos from Air New Zealand, including one where the staff are naked apart from body paint, and another featuring top All Blacks and coach Graham Henry.
More recently, rapper Snoop Dogg duetted with Air New Zealand mascot Rico in an advertisement.
On the video stowing luggage becomes an exercise with Simmons: "Stretch and slide, yeah! You're a giraffe." It also features Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan, who performs some freestyle aerobics.
Simmons has been in New Zealand to take a fitness class to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Red Cross appeal. Simmons was a pioneer of fitness TV in the eighties, with his high energy and slightly unhinged The Richard Simmons Show.
The less-than-serious video comes a week after Qantas was criticised by some flight attendants over its latest safety video featuring actor John Travolta. In it, Travolta repeatedly refers to the cabin crew as the "team", which some flight attendants called "demeaning".
Along with Simmons, the Air New Zealand video also features the former host of New Zealand television's Breakfast program Paul Henry.
Henry last year quit the TV1 show under intense pressure over racist remarks he made about Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand and his mocking of the name of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit during the Commonwealth Games.
As Simmons turns the safety demonstration into a manic workout, replete with neon lycra and sequins, Henry surreptitiously says into his mobile phone: "I'm on a plane full of crazies".
"Stop broadcasting, Buddy!" scolds Simmons, closing Henry's laptop.
"I don't think it's the first time anyone's said that to me," Henry sighs, referencing his exit from Breakfast. The pair then sit side by side not speaking before the unbearable tension is broken when Simmons kisses Henry on the cheek.
The kiss is perhaps a direct reference to the airline's earlier safety video featuring the All Blacks, which was edited after complaints from some members of the gay community.
In the offending scene, a coy All Blacks centre Richard Kahui turns down an opportunity to peck the cheek of gay Air New Zealand flight attendant Will Coxhead.
The airline's operations and safety manager, David Morgan, said among the complaints was a suggestion from a professor that the video could lead to gay male suicides.
The video continued to appear on Air New Zealand flights after the scene was cut.
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