British budget carrier easyJet has launched a recruitment drive for future pilots, hoping a new campaign will attract more diverse candidates and challenge pilot stereotypes.  

In the campaign, launched on January 31, 2022, easyJet uses several of its own pilots, including a mother-of-two, a former gymnast and a former DJ, to encourage people from different backgrounds to consider becoming pilots. The ads aim to show how people may not realize they already have skills useful for piloting, such as multi-tasking and fast reactions. 

“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,” chief executive Johan Lundgren said in a statement.  

Globally, only around 6% of pilots are women, easyJet noted.  

“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,” easyJet captain and parent Iris de Kan was quoted as saying in the statement.  

The campaign marks the relaunch of its pilot training program, the first time in two years that easyJet has been looking for people to commence training to become pilots.  

The budget carrier is not the only airline looking to secure a pipeline of pilots for the future. US carrier United is recruiting students for a new flight school and Qantas has announced a new training facility at Brisbane Airport.   

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In its statement, easyJet said it wanted to recruit over 1,000 new pilots over the next five years. Training takes around two years, meaning the first pilots from the new training intake will therefore be ready to join easyJet as first officers from 2024 onwards, the airline said.    

The easyJet training program is in cooperation with flight training provider CAE and sees pilots with little or no experience complete a tailored scheme giving them an MPL license to operate multi-crew aircraft, such as the A320 family aircraft that easyJet operates. Successful applicants will however need to find funding for the training, with the CAE listing the cost of the MPL scheme on its website as €109,950 ($122,677).  

After the COVID-19 virus emerged and grounded air travel, easyJet paused recruitment of those who completed pilot cadet programs during the pandemic. It also reduced its pilot workforce via redundancies in Europe and agreed a deal with unions in the UK to place staff on part-time contracts. However, now it is ramping up operations in expectation of a strong summer. Some of those on the training schemes who were placed in a hold pool are now also starting with the airline over the coming months. 

“Many newly qualified female pilots are also now set to join the airline in coming months, with flying set to ramp up for the summer and beyond,” easyJet added.  

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Still, while things are improving on the recruitment front, the situation remains tough for many already qualified pilots. A recent survey showed over one-third of commercial pilots globally were not flying.  

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Over one-third of commercial airline pilots are still not flying, although that number is down from one year ago, according to a new survey