International Women's Day: Brussels Airlines flies to Marseille with 100% female cockpit

Baggage was handled by an all-female team from Alyzia and passengers were boarded by an all-female passenger team of Brussels Airlines

Brussels, March 8th 2023 - A Brussels Airlines Airbus A319 flew from Brussels Airport to Marseille this morning with two women in the cockpit. Before departure, the passengers' baggage was also handled by an all-female team from Alyzia and the flight was boarded by an all-female passenger services team from Brussels Airlines. With this symbolic flight on International Women's Day, the Belgian airline highlights the importance of gender equality and inclusion.

On this 112th International Women's Day, Brussels Airlines once again highlights the importance of a world where men and women are equal. That is why Captain Catherine, First Officer Justine and cabin crew members Hilke, Kedy and Maureen are operating flight SN 3597 to Marseille today. Among the cabin crew, one man is also symbolically travelling with them, Christophe.

"Over recent years Brussels Airlines has been working towards more gender equality between men and women, an ambition we are committed to," says Cedric Vanasbroeck, Diversity & Inclusion Manager at Brussels Airlines. "But inclusion in the broader sense is also high on our agenda. Everyone is welcome in our open-minded and multicultural company, whatever their gender, age, origin, religion and sexual orientation may be."


More than half of the employees are women

Over half (53%) of the staff at Brussels Airlines today are women. Although there is still room for more balance across all departments (except for cabin crew and airport passenger services staff with respectively 72% and 75% women), Brussels Airlines is among the leaders in aviation. For instance, for the time being, one in ten pilots at Brussels Airlines is a woman, which is almost double the number usually found in the aviation industry (5 to 6%). Also the percentage of women in management positions is with 35% higher than the average and well above the Gender Balance targets for leadership roles as defined by IATA (International Air Transport Association). There is also a strong female representation in the commercial department (56%) and in Back Office operations (47%).

In atypical areas like IT and the technical functions at Maintenance & Engineering, the challenge to bring women on board remains high: in Maintenance only 5% is female, whereas in IT 34% is a woman.

"We continue to increase our efforts to guarantee diversity and inclusion in all divisions of the company," says Cedric Vanasbroeck. "Women's empowerment is one of our priorities. In the coming months, we are actively looking for well over 100 new employees. In that search, we want to encourage women to take a look at our opportunities as they are welcome in all positions, such as aircraft cabin technician, product managers to flight operations officer."


Leveling out the difference between men and women

Isabelle Careme, now working as a cabin technician for some 15 years, preceded her future colleagues. "Both in education and at Brussels Airlines you see that these days everything is being done to introduce women to all kinds of jobs. Today, I don't feel any difference between my male colleagues and myself either. What you do see is that some passengers are still surprised to see a woman on board doing technical work in the cabin. That always makes me smile. So it is often a difference of culture across generations. I am still hopeful that the next generations will not make a difference between people."

Catherine Agneessens, a pilot for 21 years and the Captain on the symbolic flight to Marseille, also experiences that within society, some views on women can sometimes still be old-fashioned. "Parents can play an important role in this and make even more of a difference, by regularly giving girls that extra push when they need it. Both in life and in their careers later on. In the meantime, I encourage women to fight for their dreams. Never doubt your choices and your abilities. Always go for it, 100%."


Focus on flexible work schedules

In addition to equality and inclusion, Brussels Airlines strives to provide the best possible working conditions to all employees. The company stimulates every coworker to fully develop their career potential while maintaining a good work-life balance. The HR policy puts a strong focus on initiatives such as part-time work, flexible working hours, internal mobility, sabbaticals and home working solutions.


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About Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines is the home carrier of Belgium and one of the four network airlines of the Lufthansa Group. It connects the European capital from Brussels Airport with over 90 destinations, 18 of which are in Sub Saharan Africa. The company employs more than 3,400 people and operates 44 aircraft.

Brussels Airlines aims to emit 50% less CO2 by 2030 compared to 2019 and plans to be carbon neutral by 2050. The airline is participating in the Stargate Project led by Brussels Airport and is therefore part of the testing ground for sustainable aviation at its home base. In addition, the airline signed the Circular Economy agreement of the Antwerp Management School in 2021. The airline was the first to transport Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) through the CEPS-pipeline connecting Brussels Airport early 2023. By end 2024, Brussels Airlines will have welcomed five state-of-the-art Airbus A320neo allowing the airline to significantly lower its CO2- and noise-emissions on its medium-haul network.

As an ambassador of its country, Brussels Airlines brings the world to Belgium and the best of Belgium to the world, among others through collaborations with Belgian Star Chefs, Belgian culinary products and the Belgian Icons, specially painted aircraft that honour a Belgian iconic person, team or event to promote Belgian culture worldwide.

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About Star Alliance

The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance, based on a customer value proposition of global reach, worldwide recognition and seamless service. Since inception, it has offered the largest and most comprehensive airline network, with a focus on improving customer experience across the Alliance journey.

Overall, the Star Alliance network currently offers more than 10,000 daily flights to almost 1,200 airports in 184 countries.

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Contact Zone General Aviation - Airport Building 26 1831 Diegem

+32 2 723 89 90