Manama: Air Arabia Second Officer Ghada Mohamed Al Rousi has issued a rallying cry to young women around the world, as concern mounts within the commercial aviation industry over a looming global pilot shortage.
Boeing has estimated that by 2034, the commercial aviation sector will need an additional 558,000 new pilots to satisfy commercial demand. Yet with major airlines only hiring around 3,000 pilots per year, global supply of pilots is projected to fall well short of demand.
Given that of the 130,000 commercial airline pilots across the globe a mere 3% are female, Al Rousi says now is the time for the untapped potential of budding female aviators to be fulfilled.
She said: “At the moment there are not enough women flying planes and this has to change. People’s mindsets are changing – there used to be an attitude that flying a plane was only a man’s job but that isn’t the case anymore.
“I remember when I first stepped into a cockpit I just had a feeling that I wanted to be a pilot. My advice to any young woman with similar ambitions is to ignore anyone that tells you what you can’t achieve. If you want to be a pilot then you must go for it. I never stopped to worry about what could go wrong – and now here I am flying today.
Despite airlines expanding their fleets and carrying more passengers than ever before, Al Rousi – who is the first Emirati to graduate with a Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL) – warns that sector growth will be stunted unless more women are encouraged to fly.
Al Rousi was also keen to stress that her conservative cultural background has not held her back in her career:
“I have felt supported by my country every step of the way and everyone has helped me as much as they can. Flying a plane is nothing to be ashamed of, it is not an easy job. My family are proud of me, my country is proud of me and I am proud to serve my country in my job every day.
“I am thankful that Alpha Aviation Group, where I trained, provided me with the opportunity to learn to fly. Some of their course intake has been 20% female, and it’s important that the training academies are at the forefront of ensuring more women get out the cabin and into the cockpit.”
Al Rousi also believes that authorities must now be pro-active in solving the pilot shortage:
“As a local woman, I have seen that this is a profession with room for more female pilots. The challenge now is for the authorities to find a way to get more women into pilot training schools and into the cockpit.”