Easyjet wants more women in the cockpit

Woman pilot Image copyright Easyjet

Easyjet says it has doubled the number of female pilots in a year after launching a recruitment drive.

The Amy Johnson initiative named after the first female pilot to fly solo from the UK to Australia, prompted a surge in applications.

Easyjet says it wants to increase the number further and has set a target for 20% of new pilot cadets to be female.

However, it said that target was "stretching". Women account for just 6% of Easyet's new pilot intake.

The airline has 164 female pilots, of whom 62 are captains, about 14% of the world's total.

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Media captionEasyjet CEO Carolyn McCall tells Radio 4's Today the aviation industry needs to address stereotyping

They include Kate McWilliams, 26, who earlier this year became the world's youngest female captain for a major commercial airline.

Based at Gatwick airport, she flies Airbus A319 and A320 planes to locations including Iceland, Israel and Morocco.

Image copyright Easyjet
Image caption Kate McWilliams became an Easyjet captain at the age of 26

'A man's job'

Only 3% of commercial airline pilots worldwide are female and just 450 of them have achieved the rank of captain. That means every female captain in the world could fit onto an A380 aircraft.

Rival airline BA has also been trying to recruit more female pilots in the past two years. A survey it conducted into why there were so few women applying to fly found reasons ranging from a belief that women could only be cabin crew, to being told flying was a man's job.

Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall said it was hard to think of another high-profile profession where women were so under-represented.

She told the BBC's Today programme that the industry needed to work on stereotyping.


"I still think there are quite firm attitudes about who flies aircraft - and that's from passengers, even female passengers," she said.

"There is a very deep perception here, which is that women don't fly planes."

The British Airline Pilots' Association pilots' union, Balpa, said that ability was the most important quality for a pilot.

Wendy Pursey, head of membership and career services, said: "It's great to see airlines trying to redress the balance. Balpa believes the only thing that should matter in securing a job as a pilot should be your ability, not your background, financial situation or gender."

But it said that a more balanced workforce could only be a positive thing.

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