EasyJet needs to recruit 200 new pilots per annum for the next five years to meet its expansion plans, but the UK low-cost carrier is not struggling to find cadets, with 30 applications for every first-officer position, says chief executive Carolyn McCall.
"We recently advertised for 89 cadets and got 3,200 applications," she says. "It is hugely competitive to work at EasyJet, and we find we can attract candidates of a very good calibre."
Luton-based EasyJet has launched what it describes as the first airline-supported UK degree course for pilots. The bachelor of science honours degree in professional aviation pilot practice will be run by UK training company CTC Aviation and Middlesex University, and will allow students to combine academic study with practical pilot training, both at CTC and later while flying for the airline.
Many would-be pilots are put off by the cost of obtaining a university degree followed by a pilot-training course, says CTC chief executive Rob Clarke. This will allow UK trainees to access government-backed student loans.
The scheme is "vital" to ensuring that the airline has a "pipeline of talented young pilots", said McCall, announcing the scheme at CTC’s annual graduation ceremony on 13 December at the training company’s Southampton premises.
EasyJet recruits many of its first officers through CTC’s Wings programme, and most can expect a command within six years, says the airline.
"With EasyJet’s continued planned growth, the time taken from first officer to captain is likely to be quicker than at other airlines,” says McCall. “Beyond that, there are further opportunities for pilots to develop their career, whether that is into a training or management role.”