Women with altitude: Five times equality won in aviation during 2018

To commemorate International Women’s Day five key developments for women in aviation last year are celebrated, as an industry historically dominated by men continues its journey to gender equality.

It’s a sad fact that, with a few exceptions, when flying travellers are still most likely to encounter women in public-facing service roles, such as flight attendants or at check-in. According to research from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (ISWAP) women make up only 5% of pilots across the globe, and only 3% of airline CEOs.

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But as 2019’s International Women’s Day approaches, flight and travel comparison platform Netflights is highlighting how a #balanceforbetter was achieved in the aviation industry in 2018, including the first appointment of a female CEO by a major airline, an increase in female pilots, and how a group of female airline technicians are challenging the idea that the only place for women on planes is a ‘Trolley Dolly’.

Five big moments for women in aviation during 2018

1. Air France hired their first ever female CEO

In December Air France appointed Anne Rigail as its new CEO, making her the first woman to ever take up the prestigious role in the airline’s 85-year history. Prior to her appointment, Rigail had been Air France’s executive vice president.

Rigail is seen as a force to be reckoned with, with her predecessor, Benjamin Smith, describing her as a “strong professional within the industry”. Her brief? To completely transform Air France.

2. India had the more female pilots than any other country

In the UK around 4.77% of airline pilots are women – however in India it is more than double this at 12.4% – that’s according to the ISWAP.

3. Zoom Air had the highest number of female pilots

Data from (ISWAP) highlighted that regional Indian airline Zoom Air has the most female pilots of all airlines worldwide. They employ nine female pilots out of a total of 30. IndiGo has the second highest percentage of women pilots at 13.9%.

Bottom of the list is Norwegian airlines – they only had 1% of females in the cockpit, in comparison to the global average of 3.2%.

4. The Nancy Bird Walton initiative launched

In late 2017 Qantas announced the launch of a new initiative named after pioneering Australian aviator and the founder and patron of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association, Nancy Bird Walton. The aim of this was to commit to a 20 per cent intake of qualified women during its 2018 Future Pilot’s Program.

5. Chix were Fix-ing airplanes

The ‘Chix Fix’ are a group of female technicians from all over the USA. They formed together in 2018 to compete as the first all-female commercial airline team in the Aerospace Maintenance Competition. They did so with the hope to raise awareness all over the world that aircraft maintenance is a career path for people of all genders.