Meet the female pilots who are taking over Zimbabwe and Ethiopia’s skies





On Nov. 18, the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Bangkok, Thailand had something different to it: it was completely operated by a female crew, from ground operations all the way to the sky. Captain Amsale Gualu was assisted by a female co-pilot, Selam Tesfaye, and by an all-female cabin crew and female ground staff. This was a first in the history of the airline—and likely in that of African aviation.

“Here in the continent of Africa, we are lagging behind in women empowerment,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam wrote in a statement. He also noted that “women are the continent greatest untapped resource,” and that the decision to have a fully female-operated flight was primarily “an opportunity to inspire young African female students to believe in their dreams”, with an eye to the skill gap for aviation professionals.

Ethiopian Airlines says 31% of his personnel is female—though women are mostly employed as cabin crews, and technical positions remain predominantly male.

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