Soaring in the sky on International Women’s Day

A first: Kusum Devi and Guddu Devi have not flown before KAMAL NARANG

Air India takes 70 women, including those who have never flown, on a joy ride

Kusum Devi, Guddu Devi and Anita Gupta work in Air India. There is another common factor that binds the three — despite working in the national airline, none of the three has had a peek inside an aircraft. But that was till now.

By the time you read this, the three would have taken their maiden flight along with 70 other women on a joy-ride on an ATR-driven aircraft from Delhi to Agra. The special flight has been arranged by Air India on the occasion of International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on March 8. Apart from women employees of Air India, their counterparts from Alliance Air, industry regulator Director General of Civil Aviation and Vistara will also be taking the flight.

Kusum Devi, a peon, has been working with Air India for over 17 years. At home, she has become sort of a celebrity for her four daughters and a son, and will become the first member of her family to travel by air. “I have been to the airport a few times but never inside an aircraft,” said Kusum, adding that her children have asked her enjoy this opportunity of a life time.

Her co-passengers Guddu Devi is a safai karamchari with the national carrier; and Anita Gupta is an office assistant in Air India Engineering Services Limited.

Joining them will be Vistara’s Neha Virmani. "As a representative of Vistara's women employees, I am happy to be participating in this unique initiative of Air India. Looking forward to the joy ride and interacting with peers from other airlines", said the HR .

.Air India has made it a habit to hit the headlines every year on March 8.

Last year, it operated 20 all-women crew flights in domestic routes. This year, the airline became the darling of social media after creating a record for sending an all-women crew on an around-the-world flight from Delhi to San Francisco, and back.

The joy ride is perhaps the cherry on the cake. Air India started work on this special flight in January and also approached other private airlines to nominate women who should be part of the flight.

“This initiative is being taken so that people working in the sector for long years get a chance to fly. There are many who might have gone inside an aircraft but have never flown in one. This will give them a chance to fly,” Ashwani Lohani, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India told BusinessLine.

The airline is rolling out the red carpet to make it a special day for these women. They will be ushered into the airport, given special boarding cards and badges which will have the Alliance Air logo to mark the special flight. A freshly baked cake will be cut at the airport by some of the women flying to Agra.

Once in the aircraft and air-borne, a special menu consisting of muffins, sandwiches and juice in paper boxes will be provided to each passenger. The airline will also be providing a gift — a pouch which will have goodies handy for a woman — so that each one of them has a small memento to remember the special flight.

Published on March 07, 2017

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