Aer Lingus aims to attract more female applicants to its pilot training scheme as it expands long-haul services from Ireland.

The carrier was the very first airline in Europe to take on a female pilot, Gráinne Cronin, and Aer Lingus claims to employs twice as many female pilots compared with the international airline industry average.

More than 50 flight crew have been trained and mentored through the airline’s future pilot programme in the last five years.

Successful candidates must excel during an intensive 14-month training programme.

This year’s recruits will start their aviation careers as first officers in 2020 on new Airbus A320 and A321neo long-range aircraft.

Aer Lingus has added six transatlantic routes to its long haul network in the last two years, including Hartford, Los Angeles, Newark, Miami and Philadelphia. The airline’s latest transatlantic route from Dublin to Seattle starts on May 18.

The largest long haul schedule will be operated this summer with 2.75 million seats across the Atlantic, as the carrier marks 60 years of transatlantic flights.

The airline’s expansion and future growth plans, including delivery of the new A321neos next year, has fuelled the need to recruit additional pilots.

Chief operating officer Mike Rutter said: “This is a unique opportunity for aspiring pilots.

“We are extremely proud of our rich heritage in training programmes specifically geared towards first-time pilots and we are one of very few airlines globally who provide this degree of support.

“It’s an exciting time to join Aer Lingus as we remain committed to growing the network which creates attractive opportunities for our pilots.

“We are looking for candidates from diverse backgrounds; strong team players who demonstrate leadership skills who will ultimately join us in delivering the four star guest experience that positions Aer Lingus as a leading value carrier worldwide.”