Legacy airline British Airways operated the UK’s biggest ever all-female flight to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
The flight from London Heathrow to Glasgow took off on Monday 6 March with 61 women involved – including baggage handlers, pilots, cabin crew, flight managers, loaders and push back teams, security, check in and airport teams.
“I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of the team on our all-female flight,” said British Airways Captain Julie Levy.
“As a mum of two teenage daughters I think it’s crucial that we grab every opportunity we can to inspire the next generation. There wasn’t any visibility of female pilots when I was growing up, so I think events like this are important to help show the range of different careers that are available to women.”
She added: “With women currently only representing around three to four per cent of the industry’s professional pilots, we have to redress the balance. I’m pleased to be part of an organisation trying to do something about it.”
As well as marking IWD, 8 March is also the anniversary of the first woman to receive a pilot’s licence. One hundred and eight years after Elise Raymonde Deroche’s milestone achievement, British Airways had three female pilots in the cockpit for its female-operated flight.
Aiming to inspire the next generation of women to get involved in the male-dominated aviation industry, BA invited seven women aged between 16 and 18 who had previously done work experience with the airline to join the flight as passengers.
Many aviation jobs are still seen as being “just for men”, according to British Airways ramp manager, Joanne Kershaw.
She said: “So many people think the jobs on the ramp, under the wings of aircraft, are just for men. I loved being part of a team of women at the top of their game, working all together for the first time on one flight, to get it ready and away on time for our customers.”
BA wasn’t the only British airline to run flights with female crews.
Six all-female crews are operating 16 easyJet flights between London, Bologna, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Agadir on Thursday 8, and more than 300 of its flights will have women in the cockpit for IWD.
Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic has three all-female crews on flights out of Manchester, London Gatwick and London Heathrow on Thursday.
“Having our female pilots out in force will provide visibility of female pilots and hopefully inspire some girls and women to take up this rewarding career,” said easyJet’s director of flight operations, David Morgan.
The low-cost airline is aiming for 20 per cent of its new entrant pilots to be female by 2020.