saudia: Saudi Airlines welcomes first flight with all-female crew

A Saudi Arabian airline has completed the country’s first flight with an all-female crew, officials said Saturday, setting it as a milestone for women’s empowerment in the conservative state.

Flydale spokesman Emad Iskandarani said the flight, operated by flyadeal, a flag-carrying Saudi budget subsidiary, was heading from the capital, Riyadh, to the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on Thursday.

Iskandarani said the “majority” of the seven-member crew were Saudi women, including the first officer, but not the captain, who was a foreign woman, Iskandarani said.

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority, which confirmed the announcement of the flyadeal on Saturday, has spoken of the broader role for women in aviation in recent years.

In 2019, authorities announced the first flight with a female Saudi co-pilot.

Saudi officials are trying to engineer a rapid expansion of the aviation sector that will turn the state into a global travel hub.

The goals include more than tripling the annual traffic of 330 million passengers by the end of the decade, investing 100 100 billion in the sector by 2030, establishing a new national flag carrier, building a new “mega airport” in Riyadh and relocating up to five. Million tons of cargo every year.

However, industry analysts question whether Saudi-based airlines will be able to compete with established regional heavyweights such as Emirates and Qatar Airways.

The state’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has overseen reforms, including lifting decades-old restrictions on women’s driving and relaxing so-called “guardianship” rules that give men arbitrary authority over female relatives.

But these have coincided with a crackdown on dissent that has trapped some women pushed for such a change.

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