The Sky is the Limit: Why Women Now Hold the Key to the Aviation Sector

Ghada Mohamed Al-Rousi, First Officer, Air Arabia shares her adventures as a pilot.

There has never been a better time to build a career in the aviation industry. Airlines are growing, with more planes, more flights, more routes and more passengers than ever before. Nowhere is this more true than in the Middle East and Asia, where the growth of the middle-class is generating considerable industry growth. But if this progress is to be maintained, the sector must address the one area where growth is stalling: pilot numbers.

Currently, there are approximately 130,000 commercial pilots flying worldwide. Boeing has estimated that by 2034, 558,000 more commercial pilots will be needed to meet the growth of the industry. Yet currently just 3% of commercial pilots are female. If the demand for more pilots is to be met, this statistic has to change.

“Just 3% of commercial pilots are female.”

The reasons for a lack of female pilots are varied. In some markets, certain cultural and attitudinal barriers still exist, with piloting still very much seen as a ‘male’ profession. Similarly there exists a misconception that all pilots are forced onto long-haul trans-continental flights, pulling you away from home for weeks on end – and therefore making it impractical to both fly and raise a family.

But piloting a plane shouldn’t be about gender, it is about hard work, ability and desire. In my case, I knew being a pilot was right for me. I told myself I was able enough to do the job and now, as a first officer for Air Arabia, I’ve never looked back.

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