World's Best Airlines for Customer Service: Singapore, International

Singapore Airlines announced this week that it has hired its first female pilots, two women who were recruited as cadet pilots in August. Prior to taking the controls of a commercial airline, they will have to complete training in Singapore and Australia over the next two to three years.

SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides revealed that the airline has no targets in place in terms of the number of women they’re looking to hire. “We will recruit whoever is the most qualified,” he said. Affiliates SilkAir and Scoot already employ female pilots, but this is a first for the national airline.

Overall, only about five percent of pilots are women, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, but Singapore Airlines’ move is an indicator that things are changing.

Asia is facing 100 million new visitors every year, and many airlines are in search of pilots and are advertising directly to women to meet the demand. “There is such an enormous demand to meet the growth that the gender bias will have to be pushed aside,” Sherry Carbary, vice president of flight services for Boeing Co., told Bloomberg.

British Airways already has a photo of a female pilot on its hiring website, EVA Air is recruiting from universities in Taiwan, and Vietnam Airlines Corp. is creating work schedules that take into account demands of family life.

By Jordi Lippe and Jordi Lippe-McGraw