Ethiopian Airlines recently made history as it operated its first all-women flight to the Murtala International Airport, Lagos on a Boeing B777-300 ER plane.
The crew made up of Captain Amsale Gualu, First Officer Tigist Kibret, and 11 cabin crew members had on board 391 passengers in the historic flight that lasted approximately four hours, thirty minutes on Saturday, Dec. 16.
All the roles from pilot to cabin crew to in-flight ramp operations and flight dispatchers on ground were all women. On arrival in Lagos at 1.16p.m, the flight was welcomed with water cannons which preceded a ceremony to welcome the epic flight.
It was the first time Ethiopian Airlines was operating an all women flight in Africa as it had earlier done same to Bangkok, Thailand.
The flight was welcomed by Women in Aviation professionals and the Director of Consumer Protection, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Adamu Abdullahi.
Also on ground were the acting General Manager, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Gabriel Akpeyi and the Managing Director of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company, Idris Yakubu.
Speaking at the ceremony held at MMIA, the pilot, Captain Amsale Gualu said she was elated to have flown with an all-female crew to Lagos. She revealed that flying was a childhood dream and since she realized it, she has gone on to fly different aircraft types from Bombardier, Q400 to flying the large body aircraft, Boeing B777.
“Since I was a child I wanted to be a pilot,” she said. “When I was young, my father used to take me and my sister to the airport to see airplanes take off and land and I used to admire pilots’ uniforms and that was how I developed the passion for flying.
“After my university education, I joined Ethiopian Airlines as a first officer and flew the Fokker 50 and the Boeing B737 and then became a captain,” she said.
The General Manager of Ethiopia Airlines in Nigeria, Firihewot Mekonenn said the airline management was happy to operate the all-female flight to Nigeria.
“Ethiopian Airlines has decided to always reward the Nigerian traveler for the loyalty they have shown to the airline. This is the reason that we are bringing the first all-women operated flight in Africa to Lagos, Nigeria.
“Nigeria is not just our great partner but also a country that has shown Africa what women can do. Women can achieve a lot and Nigeria is a leading light in women empowerment in Africa. One of the first female pilots in Africa is a Nigerian.
“Today Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s first four-star airline, is proud to be the first to operate an all-female operated flight to Nigeria. We are all witnesses to history today,” Mekonenn said.
The Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Mrs. Nkiru Onyejeocha, commended the Captain and the rest of the crew, describing their successful flight from Addis Ababa to Lagos as proof that women can achieve so much if given the opportunity.
Onyejeocha also commended Ethiopian Airlines and said it has always partnered Nigeria both in good times and bad. She recalled that earlier this year when the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, was closed for runway repairs, Ethiopian Airlines was the only foreign carrier that agreed to operate from the alternative Kaduna International Airport.
She also noted that the successful operation of the all-female flight by the airline is an incentive to women in Nigeria to realize that the aviation industry is an attractive sector where they can rise to the highest position and that those who dream to be pilots should know that the dream is realizable.