Wednesday, November 15, 2017

For woman power in aviation

Women in the aviation industry are mostly associated with the glamour jobs — as a crew member or at the front desk. A few have made a mark as pilots. “But there are so many other kinds of job opportunities for women in aviation,” says Radha Bhatia, Chairperson of the New Delhi-based Bird Group.

She would know. In 1988, Bhatia started the Bird Academy, the educational arm of the Bird Group that was founded by her husband 17 years earlier. The academy offers diploma and certificate courses in travel and tourism, airfares and ticketing, passenger and baggage handling, air safety and emergency handling, dangerous goods regulations and consultant and foundation courses certified by IATA, a trade association of world airlines.

The courses range from about a month to a year in duration and the academy trains roughly 3,000 students every year, most of them fresh out of high school.

The classroom sessions are held in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kochi. Faculty members also travel to cities where there are a sizeable number of applicants. “Our students earn up to ₹25,000 a month once they finish any of the courses,” Bhatia said. “We don’t have a placement cell but companies contact us when they need trained staff. Our students have worked with Amex, Makemytrip,, Delhi Tourism and airlines like Jet Airways, Air France and ground handling companies like Celebi. We know our students are good because they are often poached by competitors for higher salaries.”

Bhatia believes the aviation industry has room for more women. She started the India chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI) in 2016, to motivate young girls to take aviation as the preferred career choice. The WAI is an Ohio-based non-profit that encourages women to enter the aviation business.

“The response has been overwhelming so far,” Bhatia said. In its first year, the initiative met with school girls in seventh and eight grades interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The biggest obstacle, Bhatia said, is the lack of information that young girls have about the industry.

“So we inform them about job opportunities that pursuing STEM subjects would provide in aviation. We co-ordinated with NGOs and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to conduct these programmes. This year, we met with students at 10 locations through AAI. Many airport directors have asked us to do such programmes again.”
14/11/17 Tanya Thomas/Business Line