KOZHIKODE: A special Air India Express Haj flight to Jeddah took off from Kerala’s Calicut airport on Thursday evening in what was most likely a historic first — women handling all ground operations, an all-female crew in the cockpit and cabin, and 145 women pilgrims on board.
Junior minister for minority affairs John Barla was at the airport to see off flight IX 3025, the first exclusive Haj sortie from the southern state this year in the non-mahram category that enables women above 45 and travelling in a group to make the pilgrimage without any male family member escorting them.
Capt Kanika Mehra and first officer Garima Passi piloted the flight, assisted in the cabin by Bijitha M B, Sreelakshmi, Sushma Sharma and Subhangi Biswas.
Women professionals from Air India Express carried out all crucial safety and other ground operations before the flight took off at 6. 45pm. Sarita Salunkhe monitored the flight at the airline’s operations control centre, while Mrudula Kapadia tracked its progress. Leena Sharma and Nikita Jawanjal handled flight dispatch. Nisha Ramachandran was the on-duty service engineer responsible for aircraft maintenance, and Ranju R verified and signed the load sheet.
The flight landed at Jeddah airport around 10. 45pm local time, an official said.