Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, marked Black History Month by operating a special flight from Toronto to Jamaica on February 28th, 2021. The flight, AC1818, was operated entirely by Black employees, from the pilots and cabin crew to the ground staff and maintenance workers. The flight celebrated the contributions of Black Canadians to the aviation industry and marked a significant milestone for diversity and inclusion in the airline industry.
The Importance of Representation in the Aviation Industry
The aviation industry has historically been male-dominated, and people of color, particularly Black individuals, have been underrepresented in the industry. In Canada, Black pilots represent less than 1% of all licensed pilots. Air Canada’s celebratory flight marked a significant step towards improving representation and increasing diversity in the aviation industry.
Calgary-based Captain Beverly Bass, the first female captain of a major US airline, spoke about the importance of the celebratory flight, saying, “When I started flying in 1976, there were very few women in the cockpit. And it wasn’t until I was flying for American Airlines that I flew with an African American pilot. To see a flight like this today is just incredible progress.”
Celebrating Black History Month
Black History Month is celebrated in February in Canada and the United States. The month is dedicated to celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black individuals throughout history. Air Canada’s celebratory flight not only recognized the contributions of Black Canadians to the aviation industry but also celebrated Black History Month.
Air Canada’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Air Canada has made a commitment to improving diversity and inclusion in the company. The airline has set a goal to have women represent 50% of its workforce by 2025 and has also launched initiatives to increase representation of other underrepresented groups in the company, including Black and Indigenous individuals.
Michael Rousseau, Air Canada’s President and CEO, said in a statement, “We are proud to highlight and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and people of the Caribbean with this flight, and through our ongoing commitment to ensure our airline is reflective of all Canadians.”
Air Canada‘s celebratory flight is a significant step towards improving representation and increasing diversity in the aviation industry. By showcasing the contributions of Black Canadians to the industry, Air Canada is leading the way in promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers for underrepresented groups. We hope that other companies will follow Air Canada’s lead and make a commitment to diversity and inclusion in their workforce.