Royal Brunei Airlines has introduced its first all-female pilot crew.
Captain Sharifah Czarena and senior first officers Sariana Nordin and Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem were pictured in the cockpit of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner before their inaugural flight on February 23, which is Brunei’s National Day.
The trio made their maiden flight together from Brunei to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – a country where women are forbidden from driving cars.
In 2012, Czarena made history by becoming the first female captain of a flag carrier airline in Southeast Asia, according to an article in the Brunei Times.
At the time, she said of her career: “Being a pilot, people normally see it as being a male dominant occupation. As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it is such a great achievement.
“It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it.”
Three Royal Brunei Airlines pilots have made history by being the company’s first all-female flight crew, making their first journey to Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive.
The women flew the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Brunei to Jeddah.
The milestone coincided with Brunei’s National Day to celebrate independence.
Last year women in Saudi Arabia cast their votes for the first time in municipal elections. A total of 978 women also registered as candidates.
They were alongside 5,938 men and had to speak behind a partition while campaigning, or be represented by a man.
The decision to allow women to take part was taken by the late King Abdullah and is seen as a key part of his legacy.
The flight Captain was Sharifah Czarena, assisted by Senior First Officers Sariana Nordin and Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem.
Captain Czarena trained in the UK and in December 2013 became the first Royal Brunei pilot to fly out of London Heathrow in its flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
She told The Brunei Times in 2012: “Being a pilot, people normally see it as being a male-dominant occupation.
“As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it is such a great achievement. It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it.”
Saudi Arabia is the world’s only country to forbid women from driving.
While it is not technically illegal for women to drive, only men are awarded driving licences – and women who drive in public risk being fined and arrested by the police.
Saudi women have launched a series of campaigns – including on social media – to demand an easing of the restrictions.