Saudi Arabia's first all-female crew takes flight

Flyadeal made Saudi aviation history this week

Flyadeal airline, a budget subsidiary of Saudia, operated the first domestic flight with an all-female crew. Photo: Flyadeal
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Saudi Arabia's first flight with an all-female crew took off this weekend, completing a short domestic journey and passing a milestone for women's empowerment, officials said.

The flight was operated by flyadeal, the budget subsidiary of flag carrier Saudia.

“For the first time in Saudi aviation history," the airline wrote on Twitter on Friday, "#flyadeal operated the first flight with an all-female crew, the majority of which are Saudis, by the newest A320 aircraft. Flight 117, flew from #Riyadh to #Jeddah.”

Most of the seven-member crew hail from Saudi Arabia, according to spokesman Emad Iskandarani, including the first officer, Yara Jan, who is also reportedly the youngest Saudi female pilot.

The country's civil aviation authority, which confirmed the announcement, has been working towards expanding roles for women in the sector for years.

In 2019, Yasmeen Al Maimani, then 29, became the first female first officer to fly a mainstream commercial plane in the kingdom.

The Saudi woman piloted Nesma Airlines flight ATR 72-600 from Hail to Al Qassim on June 9.

"I thought it was going to be hard, being a female pilot based in Hail but it hasn't been," she said at the time. "I feel so comfortable with everyone else here, and the way they treat me. It's like they are all my brothers, it's a good feeling."

Last year, figures showed female participation in the kingdom's workforce rose to 33 per cent at the end of 2020, from 19 per cent in 2016, according to data from the General Authority for Statistics.

Saudi Arabia aims to generate 356 billion riyals ($95bn) of investment into its aviation sector by 2030.

Its National Aviation Sector Strategy is working to increase connections from Saudi Arabia to 250 destinations, reaching 330 million passengers.

The kingdom also plans to launch another airline to complement its existing national carriers, including Saudia, and to build a major international airport in Riyadh, in addition to eight more regional airports.

Updated: May 22, 2022, 6:39 AM