A Virgin Australia flight dispatched, operated, and handled entirely by women has touched down at Brisbane Airport as a symbolic gesture to mark International Women’s Day.
The 737-800, VH-YWD, departed Melbourne at 8:34 am as flight VA313 and landed at 9:22 am. It featured an all-female flight and cabin crew and an all-female pit crew at both ends.
Additionally, the flight plan was drawn up by a female dispatcher, weight and balance were performed by a female load controller, and support was provided by female airport safety and ATC staff.
In all, over 20 women participated in more than 10 different roles for the flight, said Virgin Australia’s chief people officer, Lisa Burquest.
“This flight is a celebration of all the incredible women who continue to pave a path for future generations to pursue a career in this exciting and dynamic industry, and I am thrilled to see it come to life in collaboration with our partners.
“Behind every aircraft in the sky, there is a highly-skilled team working together to ensure passengers get to their destinations safely, and for this flight, every one of these roles is carried out by women,” she said.
Lorie Argus, CEO of Melbourne Airport and the first woman to take up the role, said the flight was a demonstration that women could “forge meaningful and rewarding careers” in aviation.
“There are plenty of diverse and exciting career opportunities spanning airports, airlines and air traffic control, from engineering, maintenance and safety positions, pilots, and cabin crew to corporate and commercial roles.
“I’ve personally spent more than 30 years in air travel, it’s such a multifaceted industry, and as aviation returns to full strength, I really hope today’s flight encourages more women to consider working in the sector,” she said.
The subject of gender quotas has seen some debate within the industry; Deborah Lawrie, Australia’s first female pilot at a major commercial airline, who in the 1970s famously won a 10-month legal battle against Ansett’s refusal to hire women as pilots, told Australian Aviation in 2021 that quotas are “attacking [the issue] from the wrong end”.
“They need to go to the other end and encourage women to get in the industry in the first place. By virtue of getting more applying, you’ll get more who are competitive with the guys.
“If there were more emphasis on it being a possibility as a career for a female, you’d get more applying anyway,” she said.
Virgin Australia has committed to the IATA’s “25by2025” initiative, with the aim of increasing women in senior and underrepresented roles by 25 per cent, or up to a minimum of 25 per cent, by 2025.