Bhutan's Drukair Celebrates International Women’s Day By Operating All-Women Crew Flight
It is the first time in the history of Bhutan’s aviation industry that a flight has been handled by an all-female crew.
By Sangay Chezom | BBS
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Bhutan’s national airlines, Drukair operated its first ever all-female crew flight from Paro to Bangkok via Bagdora on 8 March. The flight KB130 had 89 passengers on board.
It is the first time in the history of Bhutan’s aviation industry that a flight has been handled by an all-female crew - from the captain, first officer, engineer, cabin crew, push back team to other ground staff.
The day also marks the 108th anniversary in which Elise Raymonde Derochoe became the first woman in the world to receive a pilot’s license.
Drukair had three female cockpit crew for its first female operated flight this afternoon.
More about Bhutan’s female pilots
Ugyen Dema, who became Bhutan’s first female pilot just five months ago, thinks that it is a very significant day for the airline and that there could not be a better way to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Another highlight of the day - the flight’s all-female team, cabin crew, push back team, check-in, catering and ground staff, received an audience with His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, who congratulated them on their maiden journey.
8 March 2019: His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen with the all-women crew of DrukAir flight KB 130. The crew flew to Bangkok from Paro on International Women’s Day.
“With the events today, we have made history,” says Captain Ugyen Dema.
“I feel privileged and honoured to be leading my crew. To be able to celebrate International Women’s Day in such a way is a very humbling experience. I feel lucky,” she added.
“We now have our first licensed female flight engineer, Sonam Deki who will also be flying with us today. And very soon we will be having our senior first officer - Sonam Lhamo, who will be starting her command training as well.”
“I think nothing speaks about progress more than exemplifying it,” said Captain Ugyen Dema.
As for Sr. First Officer Sonam Lhamo, it is about looking to a future that will be a gender-balanced society, by inspiring Bhutanese girls and young women.
“Empowerment is a collective responsibility and the best way to make it happen is to create the right environment and lead by doing. It is exciting. Being able to drive change is something very gratifying.”
“This flight today exemplifies the theme of this year International Women’s Day ‘balance for better’. We belong everywhere. We are part of the change and we are part of the innovation.”
The first female licensed aircraft engineer, Sonam Deki Tshering said, “globally the renowned airlines are also doing it recently. So for a company like Drukair, when we are able to produce a whole female set crew, it’s a great honour to be a part of the team.”
She shared that as a female working in the aviation industry, people do appreciate them working in a male-dominated industry.
“I have neither received any special treatment nor has there been any discrimination. We are recognised for our hard work, for our input and for our dedicated service.”
Drukair hopes to encourage more women to join the aviation industry
“Flying in the aviation industry is seen as a very high level of expertise, when women can match up to men and fly in a places like Paro, which is one of the most difficult and demanding airports in the world, we need to appreciate them,” Captain Chimi Dorji, the manager of crew training, said.
Today, Drukair employs 168 women who constitute 35.44 per cent of its total workforce. The all-female flight is milestone and a celebration in recognition of the indispensible contribution of women in the aviation industry.
Through the initiative, Drukair hopes to inspire more women to join the aviation industry.
“We have now, by doing this, managed to exemplify the true meaning of celebrating International Women’s Day."
"We have taken a long time to plan this event and here it is finally. I hope our way of inspiring the young succeeds. It should,” said Captain Ugyen Dema.
“I think Bhutanese women are very lucky. We enjoy equal rights and opportunities as our men do. That said, however, there is still a lot more we can and should do to close the gender gap."
This article first appeared in BBS and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.