All-women flight crew a first for Malawi

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Malawi Airlines has made history in the country by sending the first all-female operated, and supported, flight into the skies, flying from Blantyre to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The two-hour flight by a Bombardier Q400 aircraft that took off from Chileka International Airport was the first of its kind in Malawi’s aviation history, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Thursday.

The captain in the cockpit was Yolanda Ndala-Kaunda, Malawi’s first female captain.

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Malawian women were responsible for the entire procedure involving the flight from security checks, customer service, check-ins, air traffic control to cabin procedures.

The airport staff, including police, ground control officers and immigration officials were also all female.

malawi pilots

Joseph Josiah, spokesman for Malawian Airlines, said the venture was intended to promote women’s empowerment and encourage more girls to pursue careers in aviation.

“Somehow they think maybe aviation is only for boys or it’s only for men because it is too technical. So we are trying to show to them that women too are as capable to succeed in these fields.”

The spokesman added that approximately 36 percent of the employees at Malawi Airlines were female.

However, only two of the company’s 12 pilots are women, a situation the country’s authorities plan to change by taking deliberate measures to narrow the gender disparity gap.

Captain Ndala-Kaunda told VOA she was excited to have another woman as an assistant pilot.

“I have been flying for nine years. And in the nine years, I was the only woman in the flight bag, so for me I am really happy that there is someone else who can join me and I’m hoping that there will even more in the coming years.”

Lizzie Tchokhotho, a duty officer for passenger and baggage services at the airline, said she appreciated the company’s commitment to women.

“I am excited. It’s an honour for women to handle this flight. I have been in this service for long but maybe it was two years ago when we had a similar flight by Kenya Airways, so it’s an honour for us.”

During a two-hour layover at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, Malawi’s first lady Gertrude Mutharika met with the crew.

Mutharika said it was high time that girls stopped thinking they couldn’t make it in previously male-dominated careers.

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