History was made on Thursday following a successful all-female operated and supported flight from Blantyre to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
The two-hour flight by a 67-seat Bombardier Q400 aircraft that took off from Chileka International Airport was the first of its kind in Malawi’s history.
Malawi’s first female captain, Yolanda Ndala-Kaunda was the pilot of the plane while her assistant was Lusekelo Mwenifumbo.
All flight-related operations such as security checks, customer service, check-in, air traffic control and cabin procedures were also conducted by women.
Even airport staff such as police, immigration and ground control officers were women.
Captain Ndala-Kaunda was overjoyed 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,” she said.
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,” said Malawian Airlines spokesperson Joseph Josiah.
According to Josiah, about 36 percent of the company’s employees are women but that the number is much smaller when it comes to female pilots – only two of the company’s 12 pilots are women.
But Josiah added that authorities have taken deliberate measures aimed at training more women in order to narrow the gender gap.
The plane first stopped at Kamuzu International Airport in the capital, Lilongwe, where first lady Gertrude Mutharika met with the crew.
Mutharika said the time is now over for girls to think they can’t make a breakthrough into careers previously considered male-dominated.