Sisters are doin’ it for themselves and making history on International Women’s Day

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In a first for Australian aviation history, today a commercial flight was fully managed, crewed and handled end-to-end by all women to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).

As part of the exciting joint initiative, which involved Virgin Australia, Melbourne Airport, Airservices Australia and Brisbane Airport, all key touchpoints and tasks related to flight VA313 from its Melbourne to Brisbane were entirely undertaken by women.

This included VA313’s two Airservices Australia women air traffic controllers Scarlett McNab and Laura Willard, who guided the flight to safety, from its Melbourne departure, through to its Brisbane arrival.

Other women involved in the flight included the Captain, First Officer, Cabin Manager, Australian Federal Police, Brisbane Airport Domestic Terminal Manager and more.

Airservices Australia Chief Executive Officer Jason Harfield said the company proudly supported the all-women crewed commercial flight to shine a light on the power of what women can achieve across aviation – and all industries.

“From our air traffic management services through to our Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service and engineering roles, or working with Australia’s developing space industry, there are a myriad of exciting, dynamic and flexible career opportunities for women at Airservices,” Mr Harfield said.

“Key to this is a culture where all our people feel included and can bring their whole selves to work, every day, without exception.

“We are committed to fostering diversity and inclusion and inspiring more young girls and women to enter the pipeline, who can play a lead role in helping us to provide safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible services to the aviation industry and community.”

Brisbane Airservices air traffic controller Laura Willard (pictured), a former Virgin Australia cabin crew member, said she was proud to act as an IWD ambassador.

“I’ve loved seeing twice as many women coming through the ranks in air traffic control at Airservices compared with when I started 10 years ago,” she said.

“Aviation is a very dynamic role for both men and women. The all-female Virgin flight service highlights the power of what women can achieve. I hope we can inspire the next generation of aerospace leaders to be inclusive and diverse.”

Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus said she hoped the flight would inspire more women to work in aviation.

“There are plenty of diverse and exciting career opportunities spanning airports, airlines and air traffic control, from engineering, maintenance and safety positions, pilots, and cabin crew to corporate and commercial roles.”

Virgin Australia Chief People Officer, Lisa Burquest said the flight highlighted how far aviation has come in terms of gender diversity and showcased the opportunities available to women interested in pursuing a career in the industry.

“This flight is a celebration of all the incredible women who continue to pave a path for future generations to pursue a career in this exciting and dynamic industry and I am thrilled to see it come to life in collaboration with our partners.”

Jane Dionysius, Executive General Manager of Human Resources at Brisbane Airport Corporation said she looked forward to a time when an all-women commercial flight was the norm, rather than the exception.

“International Women’s Day 2023 is about Cracking the Code. Initiatives like today where the industry works together provide young women with a powerful visual reminder, the sky is not the limit.”

Posted on: March 8, 2023

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