Aisha Al Mansoori recalls being mesmorised by the aerial activity at Al Ain Air Show in 2007. Nowadays, she is one of those pilots, flying the largest passenger jet in the world.
“I fell in love with aviation during the 2007 Al Ain Air Show and joined Etihad the following year as a cadet. After qualifying, I started as a Second Officer on the Airbus A320 and now I’m a First Officer on the A380. I hope to become Captain so I can train other aviators,” said Aisha Al Mansoori.
A total of 11 Emirati women are fully operational as pilots with the airline, while 38 others are navigating their way through cadet pilot training.
Etihad has been holding a series of events to mark the second year of Emirati Women’s day, a government-led initiative now held annually on 28 August to recognise the role of Emirati women in the development of the UAE. This year’s theme is Emirati Women and Innovation.
The most symbolic of the events was a visit to Etihad Airways’ Training Academy by ten longstanding members of the UAE General Women’s Union (GWU). The delegation met some of the airline’s Emirati female pilots, engineers and business leaders – bringing two generations together in a powerful illustration of the journey of Emirati women and the progress that has been made.
The GWU was established 41 years ago on 28 August, the same day now celebrated as Emirati Women’s Day. The delegation was led by its first member, 65-year old Zulaikha AL Sayed AL Hashemi.
H.E. Noura Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the UAE General Women’s Union, said: “Such achievements would not have been possible without the vision, direction and unwavering support of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood. We were happy to meet ambitious Emirati women working across Etihad Airways, both locally and globally, in areas such as flight operations, engineering and management.”
Mona Walid, Vice President, Human Resources for Etihad Airways and Etihad Airways Engineering, said: “Since Etihad’s launch in 2003, the company has focused on attracting and developing both male and female Emirati talent. As we nurture the leaders of the future, we are committed to elevating Emirati women to the forefront of aviation to play their part in the growth of the economy.”
On Wednesday 24 August, a media event was held involving a number of Emirati female employees of the airline. Amongst them was Khawla Albadi, who in her role as Head of Business Services, looks after innovation and technology across the organisation.
Of the more than 3,200 Emiratis employed by the airline, 1,661 are women – or 51 per cent. This includes the 137 at the award winning, all-female Al Ain Contact Centre, reflecting the appeal of Etihad as an employer of Emirati women.
Also present at Wednesday’s media gathering was Maitha AlHemeiri – Manager E-Operations Support, who is working towards paperless cockpits and Reem Fekri, whose role in the Corporate Communications division saw her seconded to the Indian Ocean island of the Seychelles to assist equity partner, Air Seychelles.
On Sunday and Monday – 28 and 29 August – Etihad is holding networking events where Emirati female employees can discuss their careers with the airline’s most successful female staff. Fatma AL Mehairi joined the events from Toronto, where she is the first Emirati woman within Etihad to be appointed as General Manager of a country. Arwa AlShehhi flew in from New York where she is Marketing Manager Americas.