“We can reach great heights,” said Rashmi Miranda, Commander of Air India’s Mumbai-New York non-stop long haul flight that flew for the first time on Monday with an all-women crew to mark the International Women’s Day.

There was palpable excitement in the air, as the 14-hour flight with a 19-member crew on board left on schedule at 0130 am from Mumbai.

Captain Miranda along with Captain Sunita Narula were given the command of the Boeing 777-200 long-range aircraft which will fly through 10 time zones. Captain Swati Rawal and Captain Neha Kulkarni will be the first officers.

“We will have the company of several beautiful women,” a passenger chuckled. There were 174 passengers on board.

Air India operated another international flight on the Chennai-Colombo sector and several domestic flights with all-women crew. Captain M. Deepa and co-pilot Sonia Jain were in the cockpit on the Colombo flight.

“We can reach great heights. We all should be encouraged,” said Miranda, shortly before the New York flight took off.

Ms. Sunita said, “the step will go a long way in the empowerment of women in this country.”

“I am very excited. Though I have piloted a long-haul flight more than a dozen times, but with a set of either two male pilots and two women pilots or three male pilots and one women pilots, it is for the first time that we will have an all women cockpit crew,” she said.

Captain Nivedita Bhasin, who was the co-pilot on the first all-women crew flight of erstwhile Indian Airlines 25-years ago, said, “We feel excited and nostalgic. Our CMD has also given us go ahead to operate as many flights as possible on this day. Indian Airlines was the first IATA member airline in the world to operate an all-women crew,”

Capt. Bhasin operated Air India’s flight from Delhi to Mumbai with an all-women crew.

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