Celebrating the immense contribution made and success achieved by South African and African women on the continent, SAA will place three flights under the complete command of women during the month to demonstrate its support for gender equality. The all-female crewed flights, both at cockpit and cabin, will take charge of selected SAA’s scheduled flight operations on 9th and 30th August 2022. 

Two of the three all-female crew will depart from Johannesburg to Harare at 10h40 (SA022) and Johannesburg to Durban at 16h55 (SA571) on Tuesday, 9th August 2022 commemorating National Women’s Day.

Captain Anuska Pillay along with First Officer Michelle Coombes will be in the cockpit and the crew on the Airbus A320 which departs OR Tambo at 10h40 will be led by purser Kim Petersen and assisted by Agnes Maabane, Rene Essack and Loraine Mitchell.  Jacquiline Mashinini will be the ramp agent coordinating and monitoring all the arrangements at the aircraft including pushing back the Aircraft from the parking bay.

The special flight is just one initiative SAA has implemented during Women’s Month under the theme “Fly High #NdizaNtombazane,” “Fly High Girl.”

Celebrations also include discounted fares for customers during the month of August and an external competition where customers stand a chance of winning a flight simulator experience with one of the airline’s female pilots.

The third all-female flight has been planned for 30th August from Johannesburg on a route to be announced. 

Captain Pillay says, “Along with the rest of the crew, we are honoured at being given this responsibility and we are flying the flag for all South African women recognising not only their daily challenges and hardships but also the immense strides they have made in furthering gender parity. There is of course still much work to do, but all-female flight initiatives like this are important as they demonstrate to people, particularly young girls, and women that nothing is impossible.”

Purser Kim Petersen says, “This is a special moment for all of us in the cabin and in addition to providing a safe, warm and friendly service SAA is famous for, we also want to show all young South Africans that dreams can be achieved through hard work and dedication no matter your gender.”

SAA’s Interim Chairman and CEO Professor John Lamola says, “The all-female flight project should show that all genders are equal in life and in the workplace, and we should all support the struggle for women for equality and protection against all the injustices they currently  endure in our country”.  He says there are many female SAA employees who occupy positions within leadership structures, strategic management, the pilot community, technicians, chefs, front line and behind the scenes. He says SAA salutes them and the contribution they make daily to the ongoing success of the carrier.  Women’s Day/Month he says is a time to celebrate the strength and resilience of women and their contribution to society at large.

From Anuska Pillay

“I managed to live my dream, one that on some days I still can’t believe I get to live! It means that all the hard work and obstacles moulded me into someone stronger and happier than I would have ever thought possible.” 

For young girls aspiring to become a pilot

Captain Pillay says, “Follow your passion – regardless of what it may be. Never let obstacles, perceptions and fear deter you, but rather let your own will, drive and effort guide you. As the famous Japanese saying goes fall 7 times, get up 8. Always value the power of your faith and the support of family and friends. I would have not gotten this far without them. And there is great value in being present, do not let the past dictate your future.” 

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