British Airways and Aer Lingus have put their collective ‘hands in the pockets’, making the path to becoming a pilot that little bit easier. And if you missed out on Oshkosh, we have it covered…
1 August 2023
The pressure for airlines to make a change to how they recruit new pilots has been building for some time… and at last change is happening. In late July, British Airways announced it will sponsor the training costs for 60 new pilots and create the BA Speedbird Pilot Academy.
That bombshell was followed a week later by Irish national airline Aer Lingus announcing its 2024 Future Pilot Programme – again with costs sponsored by the airline.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said, “The Speedbird Pilot Academy will make the ambition of becoming a British Airways pilot a reality for people who’d previously written the option off because of the cost barrier. Our aim is to attract the very best talent out there for our future generation of pilots.” The story is here.
Of course, there is a tough selection process to go through and applicants will need to prepare themselves. But it’s a start. The UK’s national carrier is tackling the problem of how to fund professional pilot training head on with the only possible solution.
It’s taken British Airways a while to get here, and two other airlines deserve credit for leading the way. Aer Lingus has been operating paid-for training for some years – interrupted by covid, of course – and the return of its Future Pilot Programme next year is very welcome. More on that story here.
The other airline leading the way is TUI which will reopen its paid-for Pilot Cadet Programme in January 2024. When I say ‘paid-for’, the scheme pays for training costs upfront, but the pilot will eventually pay the money back via what TUI calls ‘salary sacrifice’, a nice way of saying they’ll take it out of your wages over the following four years. But hey! At least you won’t have to sell your spleen, a kidney and a pound of flesh to pay for it.
What’s needed now is for two very well-known low-cost carriers to come up with their own sponsorship schemes – yes, you Ryanair and easyJet. Stop hiding in the cupboard!
If you’ve been reading through the website or this issue of FLYER, you cannot help but see our extensive coverage from the EAA AirVenture – Oshkosh to you and me. We also have a stack of videos on the FLYER YouTube channel and more to come, so feel free to watch them. Oshkosh this year was brilliant, and as busy as it has ever been. The effects of covid, evident last year, appear to have been banished, and it’s back to its busy, mad, slightly chaotic but well organised self.
And, as ever, General Aviation in the US is far more practical than it is here. We met up with Bryan Turner, aka YouTuber Just Plane Silly, for lunch one day and told him about the UK’s liking for PPR, booking out, hi-viz jackets, airfields that close at dusk, and the cost of fuel. I could see Bryan was thinking, “Are these guys winding me up? It can’t really be like that.”
Yes, Bryan it is, and what’s more, someone somewhere has a justification for all those things.