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AAPA to Aviation Industry: Gender Parity Needs “More Than Talk”

AAPA to Aviation Industry: Gender Parity Needs “More Than Talk”
Sharon Hsu

The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) was founded in 1966 and has a membership roster of sixteen airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region, including All Nippon AirwaysSingapore AirlinesKorean Airlines, and others. The association held its annual meeting last week in Jeju, South Korea.

One of the challenges confronting the aviation industry in coming years is a predicted overall shortage of pilots. In July, Boeing released a report that estimated 790,000 commercial, business, and helicopter pilots will be needed in the next twenty years as demand for air travel continues to increase and airlines grow the size of their fleets. This number would nearly double the current roster of active pilots and represents an enormous obstacle to growth.

At the same time, the lack of gender equality in the industry is also coming under heavy scrutiny. According to Australian Aviation, industry reports show that women make up only three percent of the pilot workforce globally. At their annual meeting last week, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) called on the industry to work more aggressively toward gender parity. “It’s a challenge and it needs more than talk,” read a resolution issued by the organization.

The organization name-checked the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) New Generation of Aviation Professionals initiative, which addresses pipeline issues by investing in STEM education as well as recruiting and training aviation workers. AAPA’s resolution further read, “The association also calls on governments and other aviation stakeholders to promote best practices in human resource development including a renewed commitment towards the further diversification of the workforce and gender equality.”

Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific‘s CEO, told reporters at the conference that the AAPA is pinpointing an opportunity. “We’ve done… badly in the past and we can do better in the future,” he said. “I mean, there is a fantastic potential workforce out there.”

Korean Air president and outgoing AAPA chair Walter Cho also noted that while airlines need to make policies that accommodate working parents, the industry at large often holds unexamined assumptions that only women would benefit from those policies. “Why does the woman always have to raise kids? Why is it only women that has to raise kids?” he asked rhetorically. “I think that [assumption] has to change before we change ours.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (5)


  1. kb9522

    October 23, 2018 at 10:32 am

    Parity doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. It’s the same issue with the massive push for STEM education in the US. It all but forces kids who are not suited for engineering to study engineering. They end up being god awful at their jobs because they never really wanted to do it in the first place.

  2. dhuey


    October 23, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    I’m curious to know if that Shutterstock photo is of a real pilot. She kinda looks like a model. I hope not, because there are lots of actual female pilots flying the planes. But hey, if she is an actual pilot who also looks like she could be a model, more power to her.

  3. jrpallante

    October 25, 2018 at 6:31 am

    More social engineering at work. Some people think that a system is inherently unfair unless the results exactly mirror the population, whether that means boy/girl, black/white, straight/gay, pretty/ugly, dog/cat, etc. The reality is that any woman who chooses to pursue a career as a pilot is perfectly free to do so (at least in the civilized parts of the world). In fact, based on the comments in this article, she probably has a leg up on her male counterparts. As for Dhuey’s comment on the photo, I have a lady friend who flies a 777 for UA, and she is a total hottie! Finally, and this is only anecdotal, but whenever I experience an exceptionally smooth landing, I am willing to bet that I will see a woman in the cockpit as I deplane. Does that make me sexist? LOL

  4. alexmyboy

    October 26, 2018 at 4:58 am

    stupid comments here, “she’s a hottie” and that women are pushed into STEM.

  5. Mordor2112

    October 26, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    Unless we get 50% of pilots from every single gender/choice/color/race/and so on nobody will be happy.

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