Captain Nevin Darwish (left) and First Officer Alia Al Muhairi in the cockpit of the Airbus A380. Image Credit: Courtesy: Emirates

Dubai: Two Emirates women pilots splashed across social media in a viral video say they are overwhelmed by the amount of encouragement from supporters around the world.

The good tidings have given the female pilots of the iconic A380 double-decker aircraft, Captain Nevin Darwish of Egypt and First Officer Alia Al Muhairi from the UAE, renewed enthusiasm for a profession traditionally dominated by their male counterparts.

The video, released by Emirates to mark International Women’s Day on March 6, was meant to showcase the immense contribution by 29,000 female employees working for the airline making up about 44 per cent of the workforce, including 18,000 cabin crew.

The video received nearly 250,000 views on YouTube.

In interviews with Gulf News, both Darwish and Al Muhairi said it has been a privilege to break with tradition to fly the latest state-of-the-art A380 on international routes.

Darwish has made history as the first woman of Arab origin to have captained the Airbus A380 while Al Muhairi is currently the youngest Emirati female pilot operating the Emirates A380 aircraft.

The responsibility of flying the A380 long-haul carrier is substantial considering the $400-million plus aircraft seats up to 544 passengers and is the largest passenger plane in operation.

“Yes, It was a nice surprise to see the response to the video. The support and encouragement that we have received from people all over the world is very touching, and gives us more strength and determination to continue to achieve more,” Darwish told Gulf News. “I’m sure that a day will come when women holding such jobs will no longer be unusual and that jobs will not be biased based on gender. We are already moving towards that day. I’m very fortunate to work with a company that provides equal opportunities to both genders.”

Al Muhairi said she is buoyed by such a strong show of support for her non-traditional career path. “I still cannot believe that the video had such a great response. I’m so happy with all the positive comments and support that we have received from people, and I hope that I can continue to make everyone proud. I hope more companies, in all fields, recognise women across the globe for their potential and ability to achieve, and that the future will not see women face a glass ceiling every day,” Al Muhairi said.

Both pilots suggest that the dated, archaic thinking that men are more capable than women in some professions is changing as women who are given the opportunity showcase skills parity with their male counterparts.

Dawrish said “that being a pilot does not require any physical strength, all it needs is good knowledge and good training, regardless of your gender. Women have made significant inroads into many professions that were traditionally male-dominated and proved that they are equal to their male counterparts.”

Al Muhairi is in complete agreement, noting that action speaks louder than words.

“I like to tell naysayers that being a man or a woman has nothing to do with a person’s ability to fly a plane, or doing any other job. I have been inspired by countless women who have made a mark for themselves in their professions,” Al Muhairi said. “The best part about being a woman pilot is that the recognition and appreciation you receive is fantastic, especially from female colleagues, keeping in mind that it’s not ordinary for a girl in my culture to be a pilot.”

Abdul Aziz Al Ali, executive vice-president of human resources at Emirates, said in a statement that women pilots and their colleagues are shining role models.

“Emirates is committed to providing equal opportunities at the workplace for both women and men across all business functions. We are proud of our women colleagues and their immense contribution to the growth and success of the airline. We hope that they can continue to inspire and be role models for girls and women across the globe interested in pursuing careers in aviation,” said Al Ali.