Airline launches scheme to boost number of female pilots on International Women's Day

Tui Airways says it will train 30 women a year in return for future salary deductions

Aircraft grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including planes operated by TUI are pictured on the apron at Manchester Airport in Manchester, north west England on May 1, 2020. - Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair said on Friday it planned to axe 3,000 pilot and cabin crew jobs, or 15 percent of staff, with air transport paralysed by coronavirus. Dublin-based Ryanair added in a statement that most of its flights would remain grounded until at least July and predicted it would take until summer 2022 at the earliest before passenger demand recovers. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)
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An airline has launched the UK’s first scheme to train female pilots with no upfront costs and a job offer on completion, in a bid to increase the number of women joining the industry.

Qualifying as a commercial pilot usually costs up to £130,000 ($154,000), but Tui Airways said that from September it will train 30 women a year in return for future salary deductions.

Making the announcement on International Women’s Day, the company hopes the cadet programme will boost the number of women who become airline pilots.

“Although only 5 per cent of pilots may be women now, the tide seems to be changing and it’s not unusual to have an all-female crew”, Tui Airways pilot Amy Bannister said.

“More and more women are joining the industry, as it’s such a fantastic job to have.

“Industry-wide we are treated as equals, and I am proud to work for a company that focuses on my role, not my gender.”

The training is expected to take about 18 months and is unpaid.

Those who complete the scheme will be offered a job flying Boeing 737 aircraft, with their training costs repaid through deductions from their salary over four years.

At current levels, this would result in an annual salary of nearly £32,900 ($39,564).

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Tui Airways' director Malcolm Sutherland said the scheme is part of efforts to “remove barriers” faced by people who want to become a pilot.

“Pilots play such a pivotal role and we want to attract the best and the brightest who are passionate and committed to going the extra mile for our customers”, he said.

“This programme is one-of-a-kind, as it’s the only scheme in the UK offering 30 places a year to train pilots without any upfront cost.”

Several train operators are also marking International Women's Day.

Avanti West Coast said that a mural unveiled in January to celebrate the woman who led the charge for female train drivers will remain in place to encourage more women to consider working in the industry.

The artwork at London Euston station depicting trailblazer Karen Harrison will not be removed as originally planned.

TransPennine Express released a video highlighting the work done by some of its female employees as part of the company’s efforts to “embrace equity” and “break the perception that the rail industry is male-dominated”.

The operator said in the past year women made up 27 per cent of its new hires and 31 per cent of internal promotions.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 5:15 AM