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The Saudi Arabian airline Flynas will begin hiring Saudi women to serve as co-pilots on its planes, it said in a statement.
CEO Bandar Almohanna said that the new policy, possibly the first among commercial airlines in the strictly religious country, will let Saudi women do their part to help improve the Saudi economy, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. It wasn’t clear how women would be hired, when the program would start or whether women were expected to eventually become captains on Flynas planes.
The airline’s announcement comes after the kingdom ended its longstanding ban on female drivers in June. Though many around the world lauded the end of that restriction, critics said it was merely window dressing on a brutal consolidation of power by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Women still need the permission of a male guardian to marry or travel.
Foreign women have already been flying commercially for years in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi women have been allowed to obtain their commercial pilot licenses since 2014, when Hanadi al-Hindi began flying small and wide-body luxury planes for a holding company. But the Flynas announcement signals the first notable effort to integrate women into the cockpits of a Saudi passenger airline.
Founded in 2007 as Nas Air, Flynas, as it’s been known since 2013, has a fleet of 30 aircraft that run 1,000 flights a week to 70 domestic and international destinations.
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