The Russian airline Aeroflot has reportedly defended shifting flight attendants it considers overweight from international routes.

A group of flight attendants who dubbed themselves STS, an acronym of the Russian words for "old, fat and ugly", took the airline to court claiming that female staff were photographed and even weighed with those not measuring up, being moved onto domestic routes, which paid less.

During a press conference on Tuesday (25 April) Pavel Danilin, an airline representative, said Aeroflot was a "premium" carrier and that "part of the reason people pay for tickets is the appearance of its employees".

Meanwhile, Nikita Krichevsky, from Aeroflot's public council, said the women were trying to sully the reputation of the airline.

"I myself used to weigh 103kg, and now I weigh 80kg. I just corrected my eating habits and lost weight. I don't understand why the request to be a particular size is unrealistic," he said, according to The Guardian.

The newspaper Kommersant reported that Aeroflot sets 48 as the maximum clothing size for its stewardesses (L; 16 in UK; 42 in Germany).

Evgenia Magurina, a size 54 and one of the complainants, was seeking $9,000 in compensation.

"We have had our salary lowered due to our clothing size. We are allowed to fly, but our salary is lowered," she said, earlier telling a Russian news channel that the airline would drop female flight attendants who did not comply with their rules on appearance.

"All stewardesses were photographed, measured and weighed by the airline in June last year, supposedly to have new uniforms ordered," she said.

"When my boss looked at my photo, he said: 'Zhenya, you know, your cheeks are too big for international flights. And you have big breasts, so you should be wearing a sports bra. This is the way they explained to me the new rules. Everyone older than 40 or with clothing size larger than small or medium was taken off international flights," she told the radio station Radio Liberty.

In court a lawyer for Aeroflot said that heavily-built flight attendants were less suited to emergencies as they could slow down evacuation process from a flight.

Aeroflot won both court cases and denies that any claims of discrimination on the appearance of its cabin staff.

In a statement in February, it said: "Aeroflot does not discriminate on age, sex, weight, appearance, religious or political convictions, or indeed any other grounds."

Aeroflot is the Russian flag carrier and the country's largest airline. It has revamped its image in recent years and the Manchester United sponsor is considered one of the world's top airlines.