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  • ​UK airlines report big gender pay gaps

​UK airlines report big gender pay gaps

Airlines based in the UK have universally reported that men in their employ earn more than women, with male employees dominating the highest-paid roles at all operators.

British Airways appears closest to achieving gender parity among the UK's major operators – though it still has some way to go – while Ryanair revealed the largest pay gap.

All businesses with more than 250 employees in the UK have been required to supply figures to the government by the close of 4 April as part of new regulations designed to address unequal pay. The figures are based on a "snapshot" of the companies' workforces on 5 April 2017 and only measure gender pay on a company-wide basis – they do not indicate whether women and men are paid equally for doing the same job.

As the deadline looms, figures have already been published for all major airlines with UK businesses.

In terms of hourly earnings, flag carrier British Airways pays women 10% less than men on a median basis – calculated by ranking all employees from the highest paid to the lowest paid, and taking the wage of the person in the middle. This measure is preferred in some quarters as high or low outliers do not skew the average.

As regards mean pay – a simple average of employees' earnings – BA reports a 35% gap.

BA is among several carriers that cite the domination of men in relatively highly paid flightcrew roles as having a significant impact on the averages.

The IAG-owned carrier states: "British Airways has been recruiting female pilots for more than 30 years and the percentage of female flightcrew at the airline is six percent, double the national average of around three to four percent. The airline recognises that there is a gender imbalance within its pilot community and is working to address this in part through greater visibility of its female pilots to inspire the next generation."

Irish carrier Ryanair – which has a significant UK operation out of London Stansted – reports a 71.8% median pay gap. Unusually among major carriers, that figure exceeds its mean pay gap, which averages 67%.

“Like all airlines, our gender pay in the UK is materially affected by the relatively low numbers of female pilots in the aviation industry,” Ryanair states.

Luton-based EasyJet released its figures some weeks ago, revealing a median pay gap of 45.5% and a mean gap of 51.7%.

It blamed this gap on the dominance of men in pilot roles, rather than unequal pay for the same job functions.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said in January: "I want us not just to hit our target that 20% of our new pilots should be female by 2020 but to go further than this in the future."

London Gatwick-based Virgin Atlantic has meanwhile reported a median gap of 27.2% and a mean gap that is much wider, at 57.6%.

At leisure carrier Jet2, the median gap is 49.7% and the mean gap 53.5%.

Fellow leisure operators TUI Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines both report median gaps of around 45% and mean gaps of around 55%.

Among regional carriers, Flybe reports a median gap of 41.2% and a mean gap of 45.4%. Eastern Airways reports respective figures of 50.7% and 46.4%, while for Scottish carrier Loganair the figures are 39.4% and 37.1%.

Looking at female representation in the top quartile of earners, network carriers fare better than low-cost and leisure counterparts – although they are still a long way from parity. Women account for 34% of top earners at BA and 24% at Virgin Atlantic. They account for just 3% of the highest-paid employees at Ryanair, 10.7% at EasyJet, 7.2% at Jet2, and 5% at TUI Airways. Thomas Cook Airlines reports that 17.6% of its top earners are women.

At regional carriers, women take 11.5% of the top-earning roles at Flybe, 6.2% at Eastern Airways and 8.7% at Loganair.

In the lowest earnings quartile, BA is again closer to parity than other operators. Some 49% of the lowest-earning employees at BA are women; that figure rises to 80% at Virgin Atlantic, 73.7% at Jet2, 68.9% at EasyJet and 57% at Ryanair. At leisure operators TUI Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines, the figures are 79% and 81.1% respectively. At regional operators women make up 81.7% of Flybe's lowest earners, 84.1% of Eastern Airways' and 54.3% of Loganair's.

Companies were also required to submit data on bonus pay. In terms of who received bonuses, nearly all carriers reported either parity or women ahead of men. In terms of the value of those bonuses, however, the money received by women was below the amount awarded to men in nearly all cases.

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