As the popularity of traveling to Asia rises, so does the number of new visitors. There are 100 million new travelers visiting every year according to Sherry Carbary, vice president of flight services for Boeing Co. This increase of passengers has led to the demand for 226,000 more pilots in the region in the next two decades. According to Boeing, carriers have begun to focus their attention on recruiting more women pilots to meet the pilot quota.
“There is such an enormous demand to meet the growth that the gender bias will have to be pushed aside,” Carbary told Bloomberg.
Globally, only five percent of pilots are female according to Liz Jennings Clark, chairwomen of the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, and fewer are captains. Airlines will begin to expand their advertisement and recruitment process to women, something that has not traditionally been done. EVA Airway Corp. has around 50 female pilots out of their 1,200 pilots. The company is beginning to recruit women from universities in Taiwan with advertisements featuring First Officer Sophia Kuo.
Some airlines are attempting to close the gender gap. Based in the U.K., easyJet has set up the Amy Johnson Flying Initiative Scholarship to underwrite the costs of training for six female pilots with the British Women Pilots Association. EVA Air is trying to hire 100 pilots a year to meet the demand. Richard Yeh, who oversees the training for pilots at EVA Air says, “Finding capable flight crews isn’t easy.”
Schedules are being created by Vietnam Airlines Corp. that consider the demands of family life for future female pilots. Other airlines are also adjusting their pilot’s schedules to accommodate working mothers. According to an email to a news outlet from Luu Hoang Minh, a Vietnam Airlines flight crew deputy director, “Flying time for female pilots may be limited due to maternity leave or the fact they need time to take care of their kids.”
It is more than likely that Asian airlines will not be the only airlines to recruit more female pilots. In 2034, the number of air travelers globally is expected to double to seven billion, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Lauren Spiler is a freelance journalist based in Athens, Georgia, but most call her Spiler.