International Women's Day at 30,000ft with Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia crew for the 2024 International Womens Day flight
Virgin Australia
Kami White
by Kami White
8 March 2024

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Virgin Australia took to the skies with a flight operated solely by women, for the second consecutive year.

The flight saw 30 women come together including pilots, cabin crew, ground crew, baggage handlers, air traffic controllers, a pushback driver and a refueller, in collaboration with Melbourne Airport, Brisbane Airport Corporation, and Airservices.

The team of people involved in Virgin Australia's International Womens Day flight
Virgin Australia

The flight (VA313) was captained by Deborah Lawrie, who became Australia’s first commercial female pilot after winning a landmark High Court discrimination case that paved the way for women to join the industry. In 2023, Sydney Airport named a flyover after her, in recognition of her trailblazing efforts. Upon learning the news, Virgin Group founder, Richard Branson, surprised her with a congratulatory phone call.

Speaking after VA313 touched down, Lawrie said: “To be in the company of so many remarkable women today celebrating together is a full circle moment, and it is one I hope serves as inspiration for people from all walks of life to pursue the many diverse and rewarding careers aviation can offer.”

VA313 flew from Melbourne to Brisbane with training captain, Paley Williams, joining Lawrie in the Flight Deck. Williams has trained a substantial number of pilots on the Boeing 737 aircraft in her 21 years working with Virgin Australia. Upon landing in Brisbane, the crew met with more than 50 female aviation students to share their advice on how to kickstart a career in aviation.

Aviation students waving off Virgin Australia's International Womens Day flight
Virgin Australia

Speaking after the flight, Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jayne Hrdlicka, reflected:

“It was less than 25 years ago that we had no female pilots flying commercial jets in Australia, so to see this come to life with wonderful female role models at every touchpoint makes me tremendously proud of the achievements of women in aviation and how far we have come.

“Today is about inspiring the next generation of women and showcasing the diverse jobs aviation can offer so that we can continue to push for progress in our sector and drive greater gender equality, which is really at the heart of International Women’s Day.”

Virgin Australia ground crew for the International Womens Day flight
Virgin Australia

Visit Virgin Australia’s careers page to find current opportunities.