A drive to encourage more women to train as commercial airline pilots is being instigated by easyJet.
Women make up only 6% of the new pilot intake and the airline plans to double this to 12% over the next two years.
The proportion of female pilots across the airline sector has remained at around 5% of all pilots for decades.
Six new entrant female pilots will have their training loan of around £100,000 underwritten by easyJet as part of a new easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative in partnership with the British Women Pilots Association (BWPA).
Named after the UK's most well-known and inspirational female pilots who flew solo to Australia in 1930, the initiative marks the 75th anniversary of her death.
It was launched by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin alongside the government’s new transport infrastructure skills strategy, which aims to attract more women to roles in transport.
The carrier expects to 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.
EasyJet opened a £2.7 million training academy at Gatwick last year to provide 60% of training for crew from across Europe, with the remainder being delivered at the airline’s existing training facility in Luton.
The airline 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.
Enhanced mentoring for female pilots will be introduced, in addition to current mentoring for all pilots. Loan guarantees will be offered for Airbus A320-type ratings for female pilots joining from other airlines. Female captains will have career development so they can take on leadership roles such as training and base management roles.
EasyJet head of flight operations, Brian Tyrrell, 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: “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.”
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