For one Malaysian father who spent 40 years of his life working as a pilot, getting the chance to fly with his two daughters was worth any sacrifice. But his two girls weren’t guests in the cabin with him; they were fellow pilots.
For many parents, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing their children have success in their professional lives. But in order to get the opportunity to fly alongside his children, dad Abu Bakar Shafie had to sacrifice the seniority he had achieved with over four decades of service to national flagship carrier Malaysian Airlines.
This proud father had no trouble sacrificing his position to get the chance to be with his daughters before he retired.
一位來自🇲🇾馬來西亞的父親，竟辭退工作了40年的機長身份👨✈️，在新航空公司由初級培訓開始？沒錯，他就我們的Abu Bakar機師👏！這都是為了可在退休前能與他2位女兒 Safia Anisa 及 Safia Amira 一同上班👨👧👧！
Clearly, Abu Bakar had a big influence on his daughters’ choice of careers, as Safia Amira, age 28, and Safia Anisa, age 23, chose to go into aviation. Both ended up landing jobs with AirAsia, one of the largest low-cost carriers in Southeast Asia, based in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
After a long stint with Malaysian Airlines as one of the most experienced pilots in the fleet, as well as a flight instructor and examiner, Abu Bakar, who is 58, was ready to step down and enjoy his retirement years. His daughters, however, had other ideas. “We persuaded him to come fly with us,” they told The Star.
The catch was that AirAsia has its own system of seniority, so to join the company and get assigned to the same planes as his daughters, who are both first officers, Abu Bakar would have to start as a junior pilot.
“We think it was the hardest decision for him but we were the happiest girls alive!” they told The Star. “The fact that we are all in the same company makes us feel at home and we get excited when we see each other at work.”
This man left the company he’s been w for 40 years, started fresh as a junior, got a new rating at the age of 58, just so he could fly w 2 of his annoying daugters. I cannot tell you how grateful i am for this. Alhamdulillah, i finally got to fly w my abah! :’) pic.twitter.com/NQGGO4ucLO
— Safia Anisa (@SafiaAnisa) July 12, 2019
While there was no guarantee that Abu Bakar would get to fly with either of his little girls, the stars and the scheduling system finally aligned to make it happen. On an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, the whole family were assigned as flight crew. Dad Abu Bakar was the pilot, older daughter Safia Amira was the co-pilot, and youngest daughter Safia Anisa was on the flight as positioning crew.
It was clearly an exciting moment for the daughters and a proud one for their dad. When Safia Anisa took a selfie of the three and posted it on Twitter in July 2019, it went viral with almost 73,000 likes. As Safia Anisa wrote, “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this […] I finally got to fly w my abah [father]!”
Safira Amira told The Star, “It was amazing as all the things I used to listen to him while growing up, I got to experience it live in a cockpit as I flew as his co-pilot.” From having grown up idolizing their dad, his daughters now were able to work by his side.
As for their dad, he hopes to work for about four more years before retiring from AirAsia. Though starting from the bottom was an unusual experience for someone of his age and professional stature, he was also grateful for the chance to share his professional experience with his daughters and other young pilots at the company.
“The experience was surreal but very special,” he told The Star. “AirAsia is a very strong and robust company, vibrant and full of energy, so I just want them to have fun and grow with this company.” While it’s unclear if the family members will continue getting assigned to flights together, the experience has already been a very unique one for them.