Airlines celebrate International Women's Day with all-female crews

A series of flights are being operated with all-female crews to mark International Women's Day (IWD).

Airlines want to encourage more women and girls to consider a career in aviation, with only around 3% of the global pilot workforce being female.

British Airways claimed a record for the most women involved in a single flight on Monday.

Sixty-two females - including crew, baggage handlers, check-in staff and security workers - contributed to the operation of flight BA1484 from London Heathrow to Glasgow on Monday.

Six all-female crews will operate 16 easyJet flights on Thursday - consisting of a captain, first officer and four cabin crew - between London, Bologna, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Agadir.

Virgin Atlantic is celebrating IWD with three all-female crews on flights out of Manchester, London Gatwick and London Heathrow on Thursday.

Around 6% of BA and easyJet's total pilot workforce is currently female.

BA captain Julie Levy, who flew the London to Glasgow flight, said most of the young women she meets tell her it never occurred to them to become a pilot.

"It's still seen as a man's job and that's a real shame," she told the Press Association.

"Anyone is capable of doing it if they put their head down and work hard enough."

Linda German, who oversaw the safe movement of the aircraft from the departure gate at London Heathrow, said passengers responded positively to the special service.

"When we were pushing back we could see customers looking out of the windows," she said.

"They were pointing, taking photos and waving. It was fascinating for them to see what was going on.

"It's great for us to see them recognise that women are in these roles around the airport."

Recent research commissioned by easyJet found that a lack of female role models is a key reason why many girls and women do not consider a career as a pilot.

More than 300 of its flights will be operated with women in the cockpit on Thursday.

The airline's director of flight operations, David Morgan, said: "Having our female pilots out in force will provide visibility of female pilots and hopefully inspire some girls and women to take up this rewarding career."

EasyJet is aiming for one in five of its new entrant pilots to be female by 2020.

Aviation minister Baroness Sugg said the number of female pilots is "too low".

She went on: "We want to see more women flying and are working with industry to encourage more women to take up challenging and rewarding careers in the cockpit and across aviation."