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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Budget carrier Flynas to hire Saudi female co-pilots 'soon'

The Riyadh-based airline will begin recruitment as part of its Future Pilots programme, says chairman

 Flynas CEO Bander AlMohanna says the airline will hire female co-pilots. Leslie Pableo /The National
 Flynas CEO Bander AlMohanna says the airline will hire female co-pilots. Leslie Pableo /The National

Saudi Arabian budget airline Flynas is planning to hire female nationals in co-pilot roles as the kingdom targets higher participation of women in the job market to boost economic growth.

The Riyadh-based carrier will begin accepting applications "soon”, said Bandar AlMohanna, chairman of Flynas, on Wednesday.

Flynas will be the first Saudi carrier to employ women in high-ranking roles, Mr AlMohanna said. The airline has not set a target for how many Saudi Arabian female co-pilots it will recruit nor specified a timeline for when they will start working, according to a company spokeswoman.

The kingdom, which is undertaking wide-ranging economic reform measures, is aiming to increase the participation of women in the labour force to 30 per cent, from 22 per cent currently, by 2030. In June, Saudi Arabia overturned a ban on female motorists, improving their mobility and easing access to the workforce as it tries to reduce unemployment among nationals. It is training women to work as air-traffic controllers for the first time to certify them for jobs in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Flynas, which is partly owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding, forecasts a 10 per cent growth in earnings this year after a flat fiscal year in 2016/17 because of sluggish conditions in the regional economy and the wider aviation industry, it said in April.

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The carrier, established in 2007, operates a fleet of 30 aircraft, and flies to 17 domestic and 53 international destinations, according to its website.

The global aviation industry is grappling with a stark gender imbalance in top positions that continue to be dominated by men.

The International Air Transport Association says only 3 per cent of airlines have a female chief executive, according to its report in March. This compares with 12 per cent on average in other industries.

In the Middle East, the number of women in senior aviation executive roles is the lowest in the world, at 4 per cent. The second-lowest is in Asia-Pacific at 7 per cent, while the highest is 16 per cent in North America, Iata said.

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