Pilot Careers

Air transport industry announces diversity award winners

IATA awards 2022
From left: Kanchana Gamage, Güliz Öztürk and AirBaltic representative

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the winners of its annual Diversity & Inclusion Awards.

They are:

  • Inspirational Role Model: Güliz Öztürk – CEO, Pegasus Airlines
  • High Flyer Award: Kanchana Gamage – Founder and Director, The Aviatrix Project
  • Diversity & Inclusion Team: AirBaltic.

Karen Walker, Editor-in-Chief of Air Transport World and chair of the judging panel, said, “The IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards recognise individuals and teams that are helping aviation to improve gender balance.

“Determination to make this happen is a common denominator for this year’s winners. They are breaking barriers and helping to make aviation an equally attractive career choice for men and for women.”

Willie Walsh, Director-General of IATA, added, “I congratulate the winners of the 2022 awards. They demonstrate the change that is happening in aviation.

“A few years ago, just 3% of IATA airline CEOs were women. Today, that is nearing 9%. Even more importantly, there are many more women in the senior ranks as we are seeing with the growing commitment to the 25by2025 initiative.

“And, as the industry scrambles with skill shortages, it cannot afford to ignore half the population. Change will not happen overnight, but with the efforts of those being awarded today and many others across the industry, I am confident that the face of aviation’s senior management will look very different in the next years.”

The 2022 IATA Diversity & Inclusion Awards were presented during the World Air Transport Summit (WATS) which followed the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Guliz Ozturk
Güliz Öztürk, CEO of Pegasus Airlines

About the IATA winners

Güliz Öztürk – CEO, Pegasus Airlines As the first female CEO in the field of air transportation in the history of Turkish civil aviation, Öztürk serves as a strong inspiration for women in Türkiye and around the aviation world. She joined Pegasus in 2005. As Chief Commercial Officer she pioneered numerous diversity and inclusion initiatives. Öztürk is also the co-chair of the airline’s Women in Sales Network, a company-wide initiative to improve gender balance in commercial departments.

Öztürk’s efforts shaped Pegasus Airlines as a commercial entity and in doing so, she put a lot of focus on diversity & inclusion that continues to this day.

Kanchana Gamage
Kanchana Gamage taking part in the discussion at the IATA conference

Kanchana Gamage – Founder and Director, The Aviatrix Project As a diversity champion from an ethnic minority background, UK-based Gamage continues to be a role model for the next generation of women. Having worked on bridging the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) gap, particularly in relation to the under representation of women in the aviation industry, Gamage launched The Aviatrix Project in 2015. The aim of the project is to raise awareness, particularly among women and girls but also people from diverse backgrounds, about aviation as a potential career choice.

Gamage believes that collaboration is the key to successful diversity and inclusion initiatives and that this is the time to move from representation to transformational change.

AirBaltic won the team award

AirBaltic, winner of the Diversity & Inclusion Team award AirBaltic’s core values, “We deliver. We care. We grow.” reflect the airline’s approach to operating in a globalised industry such as aviation. Diversity and inclusion have become a key differentiator for the carrier, which has introduced a strict zero discrimination policy and where 45% of the airline’s top management team comprises women, a figure that is significantly higher than the industry’s average.

AirBaltic is recognized for promoting gender equality across the company. The airline has a 50% gender split among all managers and 64% of women managers have been promoted internally to their current positions. In addition, airBaltic has worked on reducing the gender pay gap to 6%, which is well below the European average.

Last year, airBaltic identified high potential employees for the internal ALFA leadership program where 47% of the nominees are female. In addition, airBaltic continues its efforts to increase the number of women working in fields traditionally associated with male roles, such as pilots, technicians, or maintenance personnel, and actively encourages young women to embark on these career paths.

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

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