Adva Amir. Photo: Courtesy

“People didn’t think I could make it as a female airline pilot, but I believed in myself”

Adva Amir, CEO & Co-founder of Direct and an airline pilot for Skywest Airlines, tells her story of adversity and what she thinks women should do in order to succeed

Adva Amir, CEO and Co-founder of Direct and an airline pilot for Skywest Airlines, had to work hard to become an airline pilot, and even after achieving her dream she still encounters prejudice all the time. “Just recently, I was trying to commute home on a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco and the flight was full. However, as a pilot I have the benefit of sitting in the jump seat, which is a seat in the cockpit, and when I went to the gate agent and asked for the seat she replied that I cannot have the seat as it is only reserved for pilots. Then I showed her my badge and she immediately apologized.” Amir added that she gets that a lot. “It is an assumption people make about me and I don't blame them. Statistics show less than 6% of pilots are women.”
With Direct, Amir is aiming to create time saving solutions for frequent business fliers. She also established Digitasa, a marketing agency that helped small businesses market their brands online during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Adva Amir. Photo: Courtesy
“I had a dream of becoming an airline pilot and as it didn't happen for me in the military I relocated to the U.S. and began my journey at the age of 22. When I just started out people didn’t think I could make it as there aren’t many women pilots,” Amir explained. “At first, I wasn’t sure either, as there were so many negative comments. However, I believed in myself and every step forward I took I realized that I could do it and so I kept going.”
A week prior to finishing her training, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and Amir flew home. It was at that time that she made the decision to open Direct. “In the U.S. there are three million private charters per year. These flights are so expensive that they suit only very wealthy people as 40% of these flights are flying empty. There is a lack of optimization, it's a waste of resources, it’s harmful for the environment and companies are losing money. Direct is creating a product that will enable customers the benefit of a private charter with maximum flexibility while paying similar prices to business plus.”
According to Amir, “currently in the U.S. there are 20,000 airports, however, airlines currently use only 500. Private charters use up to 5,000 so the opportunity is huge and at a better price point we are opening up private charters to potentially everyone. We plan to become the google flights for private charters.”
CTech's She-inspires series follows the stories of various female leaders in Israel. The interviewees hail from various sectors: some work at high level positions in large organizations, some are founders, and some are key players in industries aimed at changing the world for the better. The goal is to learn where they came from, where they are going and how they are bringing inspiration to an entire sector making its way towards a glass ceiling just waiting to burst.

Why do you think there are so few female pilots, or female entrepreneurs?
“I think a lot of it has to do with awareness. Little girls don't even think of the option of becoming pilots as they don't have any role models in the field. Also, in Hebrew we say ‘Tayasim’ and we say ‘Dayalot’ - we make the professions male and female so there is an inherent prejudice. In addition, there is a very real fear of entering a male dominated industry. We need to change the stereotypes. Many women think they can’t be a mom and a pilot which is completely untrue: I can fly and still come home everyday, just like in any other profession. We need to get rid of the prejudice.”
What would be your tip to other potential female pilots or entrepreneurs?
“Go for it, get out of your comfort zone. It is never easy but you should believe in yourself. The road is long and there are many challenges but you have to start somewhere,” Amir said passionately. “A flight deck with one woman and one man is perfectly balanced. I hope that when a female pilot will walk into a terminal one day she won't be considered as unusual.”