Minister backs airline’s bid to increase female pilot recruits

Jan 29, 2016

He was at the Luton Airport headquarters of budget airline easyJet to unveil the easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, named after the UK’s most well-known and inspirational female pilot.

The airline aims to double its annual intake of female pilots to 12 per cent of the total it trains.

The launch of the easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, in partnership with the British Women Pilots Association, is one of the first parts of a long term strategy to increase female pilots with six female, new entrant pilots having their training loan of around £100,000 underwritten by easyJet.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Our new Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy sets tough new targets designed to get more women into the industry.

“I am delighted to see easyJet taking a lead with the Amy Johnson Flying initiative and would like to see more companies coming up with innovative ways to encourage more women to consider a career in transport.”

Other easyJet activity to increase the number of female pilots will include:

Working with easyJet’s pilot training providers to attract more women to apply for the cadet programme.

Work in partnership with organisations which promote female take-up of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and women in business, which could include funding sources for the easyJet project.

Highlighting the opportunities of pilot careers to young, female audiences such as school groups and other young organisations by deploying current easyJet female pilots to speak about their careers.

easyJet has also committed to provide additional support to develop and retain female pilots, so that more of them can go on to achieve captaincy and pilot management roles.

Brian Tyrell, head of easyJet flight operations, said: "We are committed to encouraging more women to consider a career as a pilot and the easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative is one important way of enabling some women, who may not have been able to consider it before, to undertake training and start what is a very rewarding career for life."

British Women Pilots Association chairman Julie Westhorp said the initiative was a step change in the promotion of flying careers to women. 

She added: “We believe this will make a real difference in supporting the entry of more young women on to a career path where a significant barrier to entry has been financial, not aptitude.

“The BWPA supports easyJet’s aim to recruit the best of the best to sustain the high standards in the industry. The BWPA has every confidence that this initiative will be a success and we sincerely hope that it will become best practice in the industry a whole.”

The airline has an established pilot cadet programme, in partnership with CTC Aviation and CAE Oxford Aviation Academy. A total 223 cadets completed their training with these providers last year and are now flying with easyJet.

easyJet aims to recruit 1,140 crew in this financial year with a split of approximately 830 cabin crew and 310 pilots. The airline also plans to promote 200 cabin crew to cabin managers and 140 co-pilots to captains.

Last year easyJet opened a new £2.7 million training academy at Gatwick airport to provide 60% of easyJet’s training for crew from across Europe, with the remainder being delivered at easyJet’s existing training facility in Luton.

Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo to Australia in 1930. Originally from Hull, she gained her pilots licence in 1929 at the London Aero Club. This year is the 75th anniversary of her death, whilst flying over the Thames Estuary for the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941 during the Second World War. 

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