easyJet launches initiative worth £600K a year to help boost female pilot recruits

easyJet has launched an initiative to help encourage more women to train for a career as a commercial airline pilot. The easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, named after the well-known and inspiration British pilot, was launched by the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin alongside the Government’s new Transport Skills Strategy, which aims to attract more women to roles in transport.

Currently women make up 6% of easyJet’s new pilot intake and the airline plans to double this to 12% over the next two years. The airline plans to encourage female pilots at all ranks and positions by widening the pipeline of young women who enter easyJet’s pilot community.

The launch of the easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative, in partnership with the British Women Pilots Association, easyJet says, 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.

Brian Tyrrell, easyJet’s Head of Flight Operations, said, “At easyJet 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.”

Julie Westhorp, Chairman of the British Women Pilots Association, said, “The BWPA partnership with easyJet in the launch of the Amy Johnson Flying Initiative represents a step change in the promotion of flying careers to women.  We believe this will make a real difference in supporting the entry of more young women onto 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.”

Judy Chilvers and Susan Crook, nieces of Amy Johnson, said, “On behalf of the family, this is a wonderful opportunity being offered to today’s women and we know Amy would have been delighted.”

According to easyJet, other 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 and working 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. easyJet has also stated its committment to provide additional support to develop and retain female pilots, introducing enhanced mentoring for female pilots (in addition to current mentoring for all pilots), as well as loan guarantees for A320 type ratings for female pilots entering from other airlines.

The airline has an established pilot cadet programme, in partnership with CTC Aviation and CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, to train people for their first full-time flying role. In 2014/15 223 cadets completed their training with these providers and are now flying with easyJet.

easyJet will recruit 1,140 crew in this financial year with a split of approximately 830 cabin crew and 310 pilots. The airline will also promote 200 Cabin Crew to Cabin Managers and 140 Co-Pilots to Captains.

The British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA) has for over sixty years promoted flying as a career to young women and supported the award of scholarships and bursaries, in addition to outreach programmes going into schools and colleges.