Flyadeal Operates Milestone First All Female Flight For Saudi Arabia

Budget carrier flyadeal has become the first Saudi airline to ever complete a flight with an all-female crew, achieving a crucial milestone for women’s empowerment in the conservative Kingdom. The historic flight flew from the capital Riyadh to the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah.

Women empowerment in flyadeal

The domestic flight operated as F3 117 using one of the airline’s newest Airbus A320. Registered as HZ-FAV, the aircraft was delivered from Toulouse on April 21st and was then introduced to operations on April 25th. Most of the seven-member crew were Saudi women, excluding the captain, who was a foreign woman. As for the co-pilot, Yara Jan, she happens to be the youngest Saudi female pilot at just 23 years of age.


Having graduated from flight school in Florida back in 2019, Jan is relatively new to flyadeal as she joined just a year ago. Nonetheless, she could not feel any more proud about having taken part in such a historic moment in the aviation for Saudi women as she celebrated:

“As a Saudi woman trying to lead my country with a proud step it was a moment of pride and joy. Although being a Saudi woman pilot is new, it is not impossible for our generation, especially with the backing that we are receiving from our beloved country and our respected leaders, who have supported me a lot to become the youngest female pilot in a Saudi airline. I will always be pleased to have the chance to make a positive change”

Flight F3 117 is just one of the significant differences that flyadeal carries as opposed to other Saudi airlines, as the budget carrier has over 55 female employees working in all departments, both onboard and on the ground, including air operations, ground operations, human resources, marketing, finance, information technology, etc. And over the past few years, flyadeal has also doubled down on its initiatives by offering many employment opportunities for even more Saudi women and organizing many intensive training courses for upskilling.

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Employees get the chance to upskill in education, information systems, communication, and even graphic design. Photo: Getty Images

Paving the way for more women

With the flight of an all-female crew, Saudi Arabia has come a long way, especially for women in aviation. The last time women made a breakthrough was in 2019 when Yasmeen al-Maimani became the first female co-pilot in Saudi commercial airlines. However, her rise to her rightful throne only came a near 10-months after she, alongside four other Saudi female pilots, had obtained a pilot license from the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation.

The lengthy delay was a result of despite being professionally qualified with over 300 hours of flying hours, Al-Maimani was unable to land a job in a Saudi or Gulf airliner due to her gender, as she commented:

“I couldn’t find any Saudi or Gulf airliners willing to recruit me because I am a woman, and couldn’t find a job in this industry despite the issuance of license from the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation. I knocked many doors for a job, but the refusal is still going on under the pretext that women’s jobs as female captains do not exist.”

Eventually, Al-Maimani managed to get offers from other Gulf airlines. Still, she turned them down as she was waiting on a similar initiative from Saudi airlines to grant her the same support and trust. Thus, only at the beginning of 2019 did the Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority begin expanding roles for women in the aviation sector, enabling more Saudi women to work in various departments such as air traffic control, administrative work, and customer service. And when Al-Maimani became a commercial pilot, she further paved the way for more Saudi women to turn their dreams of becoming pilots into an actual reality.

Yasmeen al-Maimani flies for Nesma Airways, which operates commercial flights in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Photo: Getty Images

The empowering line

As Saudi Arabia is trying to engineer a rapid expansion of its aviation sector to turn the Kingdom into a global travel hub, the increasing opportunities for women are a positive line of change. The number of female pilots and flight attendants within the Kingdom is slowly but surely rising. And with the distant future’s establishment of a new national flag carrier, it would be interesting to see more female crews hired by that new airline.

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