Revival in the aviation sector to create jobs for women

womenaviation The ongoing economic reforms in India have led to the opening up of the aviation sector to private enterprises. There are several large private airline companies in India now, apart from the two public sector enterprises, Air India and Indian Airlines. Aviation sector suffered a major slump in the past few years due to global recession. However, the last two years have witnessed a market revival for the aviation business. Future growth prospects are quite promising, leading to new career opportunities for women in this sector.

Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) in a recent report titled, “Addressing the Skill Crisis in Indian Aviation” has forecasted a major growth in employment in this sector in India over the next decade. The requirement for trained professionals in the sector could rise by three times during this period, which is effectively a 15 percent growth per annum. CAPA says that India may begin facing personnel shortages in aviation sector as early as 2012-13. This means new employment opportunities for women in various job lines such as pilots, engineers, cabin crew, ground staff, air traffic control, in-flight catering, Retailing, administration and security staff (1).

In addition to the growth of domestic air traffic and jobs in airlines, there are also going to be new employment opportunities for women at airports. Massive expansion plans for international and domestic airports in major metro cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai are already underway. A new terminal at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is about to open, which will require a substantial staff support to run its operations. Major revamp plans for 35 non-metro airports in India are also planned, which will create new ground jobs in these cities as well.

A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has also supported the predictions of an impending boom in the aviation sector in India. It is estimated that the total number of aircraft in the aviation sector will increase more than double in the coming years, when there is already a shortage of pilots and other trained support staff. New job opportunities are expected to arise for the positions of pilots, flight dispatchers, cabin crew personnel, airline managers, airport managers and ground handlers. An additional 200,000 jobs are estimated to get added in the sector by 2017. The number of women pilots is also on the rise in India, with nearly 10 percent of all domestic flight pilots in India being women (2).

There are a number of air hostess training institutes coming up in India in the private sector. These jobs are highly sought after by the women of today in both metro and non-metro cities. The pay packages and the perquisites are lucrative, and flying has been traditionally considered a glamorous profession, which attracts a lot of young women to aspire for a career as an air hostess. There are also ideal job opportunities for women in customer service, customer relationship management, cargo control and airline ticketing (3).

The overall number of cabin crew personnel in various airlines in India is expected to grow from 10,207 members in 2007-08 to 20,284 by 2011-12. Within 3 to 5 years after recruitment, a flight steward or an air hostess can aspire to become a Fight Purser, if the work performance is good. The salary and perks continue to rise higher along with the work promotions (4).

Indian women have set their sights on the skies as the aviation sector grows and expands its scope. With women handling the sensitive positions of commander pilots and air traffic controllers, the Indian aviation sector has come a long way from the time when airlines used to employ women only as air hostesses and flight attendants.


- Vikas Vij (views expressed in the article are that of the author)