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Africans rising

First all-female crew flight by Malawian Airlines

Malawi has re-written its aviation history this week when the country witnessed its first all female flight deck crew flying Malawian Airlines flight from Blantyre to Dar-es-Salaam. The company’s maiden all-women operated and supported flight is being celebrated across the continent.



Malawian Airlines for the first time had an all female flight crew. The national carrier sought to inspire young girls, and women to pursue a career in the aviation sector.

The flight from Blantyre to Dar-es-Salaam was wholly operated by women. The women were in charge of every single aspect of the flight operation, from cockpit to cabin, check-in to customer care, and air traffic control to ground handling.

According to Malawi Airlines, the Bombardier Q-400 flew from Blantyre to Dar es Salaam and back with Capt. Yolanda Ndala Kaunda, and FO Lusekelo Mwenifumbo in command of the flight deck and flight technician Saba Solomon certifying take offs.

Control Towers at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) where a reception was held before take off for Dar es Salaam were in able hands of three women: Patricia Mwafulirwa, Chikondi Chadza and Jelia Kalinda, the Airline said.

Josephine Chapuma and Isabel Kamanga took care of the cabin completing the set of the all-women crew. Security, Check-in and fire fighting personnel were all women.

Read: Meet Besa Mumba Zambia’s youngest commercial pilot

Malawi Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ahadu Simachew said the ‘special flight’ was organized to showcase that women were as capable of handling challenging endeavours, such as flying,  which are mostly dominated by men.

“We decided to organize this historic event with the aim to encourage young girls who aspire to pursue careers in aviation but somehow think it is hard and too technical or that it is a no-go zone for women.

“What we are witnessing today is a symbol that women too can thrive in male-dominated fields; all they need is for us to level the playing field,” said Simachew.

Read: Ethiopian Airlines operate historic all-women flight

First Lady of Malawi Dr. Gertrude Mutharika was the guest of honour at the special reception and she said the all-women flight was a symbol that Malawi was on the right track towards women empowerment .

“And let me emphatically add that this first ever All-Women Flight has confirmed that sky is no longer the limit for women. Today, women have come to demolish all boundaries that kept us confined in certain narrow spaces for far too long,” said the First Lady.

Malawian Airlines is owned by the government Malawi (51%) and the Ethiopian Airlines (49%). Ethiopian Airlines operate Malawian Airlines under a management contract.

Women taking to the skies

In a historic achievement in 2015, two female Air Zimbabwe pilots were the first all female flight deck crew on the airline’s Boeing 737 from Harare to Victoria Falls.

The news of Malawi’s all female flight crew is being shared, and celebrated across various social media platforms.