Amanda Kandawire was the Senior First Officer of Airbus A380 wide-body at Emirates. But due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, she was grounded. However, Amanda soon adapted to the change and saw the opportunity as a chance to start her own business. Now, the pilot runs two companies.
“My aviation journey began when I was five years old,” says Amanda. “It was my first commercial flight ever and the one that ignited the flame for me. At that time, I didn’t know any pilots or anyone in the aviation industry, but, from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up.”
While Amanda thought about pursuing other careers, she always returned to flying. So, immediately after completing high school, Amanda enrolled at a Flight Training Academy. After that, she decided to focus solely on flying.
“When lockdown happened so abruptly and flying came to halt, I spent my days in preparation, getting things in order for the launch of my two projects.”
Fast forward a couple of months, and the pandemic was still widespread. Amanda was made redundant and decided to relocate back to South Africa. However, South Africa was just as badly affected, and its aviation industry was also suffering. Amanda instinctively knew that it would be quite some time before she would be able to fly again.
Amanda says: “It was then that I decided to focus on my business full time. Layover Art was the first venture. It’s a space where I sell my art prints and art-curated products.
“On the plus side, lockdown afforded me the time to work on my art. So, by the time I launched, I had enough content ready to get the project off the ground.”
She continues: “My next business venture was Fly Like A Girl, a company I founded to expose children, especially young girls, to the world of aviation and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers through the medium of educational toys.”
Losing a job and starting a small business during a pandemic was no easy feat. But Amanda’s husband, her parents and friends have been an incredible source of support.
“The pandemic came with a lot of loss for the whole world. But I think it may have also been a reset that was desperately needed.
“Now that vaccines are rolling out across the world, I think it is only a matter of time before aviation and other industries begin to recover. Of course, I miss flying a lot and I cannot wait to get back. I know a lot has changed as a result of the pandemic, but I hope instead of it being the ‘new normal’ people will see it as the ‘new better’.”