Budget airline easyJet targets women in drive for 1,000 post-pandemic pilots

Budget airline easyJet says it needs to recruit 1,000 pilots over the next five years as it comes out of the pandemic, and is focusing on bringing in more women.

The Luton-based operation said it expects a strong bounce-back this summer after being battered by restrictions on air travel during two years of Covid-19.

Its pilot training programme is being launched for the first time since the start of the pandemic and the business said it also wants to tackle a gender imbalance in the industry.

The airline flies into and out of UK airports including East Midlands, Aberdeen, Belfast International, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Liverpool, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We are delighted to be reopening our pilot training programme again for the first time since the pandemic hit and will see us recruit over 1,000 new pilots in the coming years.

“EasyJet has long championed greater diversity in the flight deck and this series of ads aims to highlight the extraordinary breadth of skills our pilots have and show that pilots can be found in all walks of life, in a bid to attract more diverse candidates.

“We continue to focus on challenging gendered stereotypes of the career having doubled the number of female pilots flying with us in recent years.

“We also acknowledge that whilst we have made progress, there is still work to do. Increasing diversity in all of its forms in the flight deck is a long-term focus for easyJet.”

Captain Iris de Kan, a mother of two who is featuring in a new advertising campaign with her five-year-old daughter Kiki, said: “It’s important that girls have visible role models so we can combat job stereotypes and show that anyone with the motivation and passion can turn their skills to being an airline pilot.

“I love the responsibility and challenge that comes with my job – but it’s not as challenging as juggling the demands of a five-year-old and a little baby at home.”

Only around 6 per cent of pilots worldwide are women, said easyJet.

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Tom PegdenLeicester Mercury business editor