Riyadh-based Flynas to recruit Saudi women as co-pilots

Riyadh-based carrier Flynas has announced plans to recruit Saudi women to work as co-pilots and flight attendants for the first time.

Women are not legally barred from working in the aviation sector, but jobs as flight attendants with Saudi carriers have largely been held by female foreign workers from countries such as the Philippines.

A spokesman for Flynas told AFP news agency on Thursday that nearly 1,000 Saudi women applied for co-pilot positions with the airline in the past 24 hours.

In its call for applications, the low-cost carrier said it was “keen to empower Saudi women to play an important role in the kingdom’s transformation”.

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Women “are an essential part of the airline’s success”, it said.

The announcement on Wednesday came just months after the kingdom lifted a long-standing ban on female motorists as part of a bid to increase women’s participation in the workforce.   

The recruitment drive comes just days after Flyadeal, another low-cost Saudi carrier, began posting jobs for Saudi women to work as flight attendants.

The ban on women driving was lifted in June as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans to transform the economy of the world’s top oil exporter.

But the lifting of the ban was accompanied by fresh arrests of some of the very female activists who campaigned against it for years, including Loujain al-Hathloul, Aziza al-Yousef, and Eman al-Nafjan.

Saudi authorities have accused them of suspicious contacts with “foreign entities”, while the local media labelled them traitors.

At least nine people remain in detention, according to Human Rights Watch.

The New York-based group launched the #StandwithSaudiFeminists campaign earlier this week, urging major car companies to call on Saudi Arabia to release the women activists.

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