Air passengers booked to travel on Air India flights to London, Newark, Singapore and two destinations in the Gulf on March 8 can expect a rare experience. Barring two male pursers, all-women crew will operate these flights.
The male flight attendants on board these special flights planned to mark International Women’s Day might appear to be an eyesore, but a Supreme Court order has made it mandatory to depute men at the in-flight bar.
Air India women staffers will select the flight route, serve meals and steer aircraft passing through several time zones to operate these long-haul flights. On Tuesday, the airline’s crew scheduling department was busy making last minute changes to the list of cabin and cockpit personnel to ensure that only women are rostered for the flights.
“I was supposed to operate the flight to Newark on Thursday, but now a women colleague has replaced me,” said a cabin crew personnel, requesting anonymity.
Women staffers from the airline flight’s dispatch department have also started working on the flight routes to these destinations. The job involves browsing through global weather reports, checking navigational aids and selecting the most fuel-efficient route.
An airline spokesperson said that an all-women crew would also operate two Air India Express flights to Doha and Bahrain on March 8.
“All activities for the operation of these flights would be done by women to make it a historic event,” said the spokesperson.
The state minister for women and child development Varsha Gaikwad will meet the flight crew before their respective flight take-off, added the spokesperson.
With close to 100 women pilots on its rolls to operate international flights and another 40 to operate domestic flights, the national carrier employs the highest number of women pilots in the country. Women pilots working in airlines in India comprise 12% of the workforce, double the global average of 6%.
The trend of operating all-women flights was introduced for the first time in Indian aviation last year on International Women’s Day. The airline had two domestic and two international flights with all-women crew.