After British Airways unveiled its latest retrojet on 4 March, we spoke to F/O Holly Sims who crewed the Airbus A319 for its flight from Shannon, possibly becoming the first woman pilot ever to fly a BEA jet.

The A319 is painted in the “Red Square” livery used by BEA on European services between 1959 and 1968. During that era airlines like BEA limited their pilot recruitment to men, so Sims is quite possibly the first-ever “BEA” woman pilot. Lynn Barton was the first female pilot employed by British Airways in 1987, and never flew for BEA. Sims talked to FlightGlobal about her experience as a pilot and the future of women in the aviation industry.

BA says that 6% of its flightcrew are female pilots, which is above the industry average. According to recent data from the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, BA employs 4,180 pilots, of which 245 are women - including 52 who are captains.


First officer Holly Sims with Julian Hall, Training Standards Captain A320, flanked by two flight attendants dressed in original BEA uniforms

Max Kingsley-Jones/ FlightGlobal