With a supposed global shortage in airline pilots, Air Arabia Second Officer Ghada Mohamed Al Rousi has issued a rallying cry to young women around the world who aspire to become pilots to continue to pursue their dream.

Out of 130,000 commercial airline pilots around the world, only three per cent of them are female, with Air Arabia Second Officer Ghada Mohamed Al Rousi saying that “now is the time for the untapped potential of budding female aviators to be fulfilled.”

Boeing have estimated that by 2034, the commercial aviation sector will require an extra 558,000 pilots to meet commercial demand. However, most major airlines only take on around 3,000 pilots per year, falling way short of the estimated requirements.

Al Rousi continued: “At the moment there are not enough women flying planes and this has to change. People’s mindsets are changing – there used to be an attitude that flying a plane was only a man’s job but that isn’t the case anymore.

Read: UAE To Get All-Women Airline

“I remember when I first stepped into a cockpit I just had a feeling that I wanted to be a pilot. My advice to any young woman with similar ambitions is to ignore anyone that tells you what you can’t achieve. If you want to be a pilot then you must go for it. I never stopped to worry about what could go wrong, and now here I am flying today.”

Al Rousi isn’t the only female pilot in the region though. An all-female flight deck crew for Royal Brunei Airlines flew and landed a plane from Brunei’s national day on February 23, flying from Brunei to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Read: Royal Brunei Airlines’ First All-Female Flight Deck Lands In Saudi Arabia

For Women of Aviation Worldwide Week from March 7 to 13, a number of airlines including the likes of Air Canada and Air India also operated long-haul flights staffed by all-female flight crews.

royal brunei airlines

Royal Brunei Airline’s flight crew – Captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy, Senior First Officers Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem and Sariana Nordin

Despite airlines continuing to expand their fleets, taking on more passengers than ever before, Al Rousi – who is the first female Emirati to graduate with a Multi-Crew Pilot Licence – warns that growth in the aviation industry will be stunted unless more women are encouraged to become pilots.

Read: All-Women Police Squad In Dubai

Although she came from a conservative background, Al Rousi stressed how it has not at all held her back in her career, saying: “I have felt supported by my country every step of the way and everyone has helped me as much as they can. Flying a plane is nothing to be ashamed of, it is not an easy job. My family are proud of me, my country is proud of me and I am proud to serve my country in my job every day.”

Main image: Air Arabia Second Officer Ghada Mohamed Al Rousi