For the first time, an airline in Saudi Arabia took off this weekend, completing a short domestic journey and achieving the feat of the country's first flight with an all-female crew, officials said Saturday. They called it a milestone for women's empowerment in the conservative Saudi Kingdom.
The flight was operated by flyadeal, the budget subsidiary of flag carrier Saudia, from the capital Riyadh to the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on Thursday, May 19.
حدث تاريخي للطيران السعودي🇸🇦#طيران_أديل ينفرد بتشغيل أول رحلة في سماء المملكة بطاقم نسائي بالكامل غالبيتهن سعوديات، وذلك على متن أحدث طائراتنا من طراز A320 التي حلقت بالرحلة رقم117 من #الرياض إلى #جدة 💜✈️ pic.twitter.com/nfg8xGOhQd— طيران أديل (@flyadeal) May 20, 2022
According to Emad Iskandarani, the flyadeal spokesman, most of the seven-member crew were Saudi women, including Yara Jan, the first officer and reportedly the youngest Saudi female pilot. However, the captain was not the country's citizen but a foreign woman.
Expanding Roles For Women In Civil Aviation
Saudi Arabia's civil aviation authority, which confirmed flyadeal's announcement Saturday, has been working towards expanding roles for women in the sector for years, reported The National News.
In 2019, the authority announced the first flight with a female Saudi co-pilot. Yasmeen Al Maimani, then 29, became the first female first officer to fly a mainstream commercial plane in the Kingdom. Saudi officials are trying to engineer a rapid expansion of the aviation sector to turn the country into a global travel hub.
According to data by the General Authority for Statistics the previous year, figures revealed women's participation in the Kingdom's workforce increased to 33 per cent at the end of 2020, from 19 per cent in 2016.
The country aims to generate 356 billion riyals ($95bn) of investment in its aviation sector by 2030. It's National Aviation Sector Strategy is working on expanding connections from Saudi Arabia to 250 destinations, reaching 330 million passengers, reported News 18.
The Kingdom also plans to launch another airline to complement its existing national carriers, including Saudia, and to construct a major international airport in Riyadh, in addition to eight more regional airports with moving up to five million tonnes of cargo each year.