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Women pilots fly KQ planes as international day marked

Wednesday March 18 2020
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From left: Kenya Airways Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, Captain Parul Patel and First Officer Sumanpreet Rehal who flew flight KQ002 from Nairobi to New York on March 8, 2020 as the world marked the International Women's Day. PHOTO | COURTESY

By NDUNG’U GACHANE

Women pilots have had their moment of glory as the world marked the International Women’s Day on Sunday.

In recognition of strides made by women in aviation, Kenya Airways (KQ) dedicated three special flights to celebrate its female stars who took charge of several flights.

Captain Irene Koki Mutungi, the first African woman to fly the Dreamliner, was the lead captain on flight KQ002 from Nairobi to New York. Assisting her was First Officer Patrick Kipsambu.

The other captain on the flight was also a woman – Parul Patel – who will fly back the Boeing 737 plane assisted by First Officer Sumanpreet Rehal, another female pilot.

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“It has been amazing having been the only woman for six years and now we have over 30 women pilots in KQ. It says a lot about our airline, which is a mid-size airline, and I think percentage-wise, we must be one of the highest employers of women, which is great for Africa and the world,” Captain Mutungi said..

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The move by KQ was in support of this year’s International Women’s Day theme of Each For Equal.

“This is not a man’s job. These buttons, these levers – they don’t differentiate between a man and a woman. So, I am here because I am capable. I am qualified, I am disciplined and I am a professional,” Captain Patel said.

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Locally, the KQ flight which took off from Nairobi to Mombasa at 11am had 100 per cent female crew, the same with another flight to Harare, Zimbabwe.

Speaking on the achievements made by women in the aviation industry, First Officer Rehal expressed her joy, saying that she is among the youngest female pilots to fly a Dreamliner.

“I am 29 years old and I feel very fortunate to be flying this aircraft particularly at such a young age. Very few people in the world, close to none, at this age can say ‘I am a Dreamliner pilot’,” she said.

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