British Airways is seeking guidance from the UK Civil Aviation Authority on the safety implications of a UK employment tribunal verdict that the airline must allow a young co-pilot to work 50% part-time flying hours to care for her one-year-old daughter. The airline is to appeal against the landmark ruling, arguing that the case is "about safety, not gender".

However, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) says it welcomes the decision and hopes that it will "encourage more airlines to introduce better flexible working arrangements for all flightcrew".

Jessica Starmer, the pilot who brought the case to tribunal, is "currently working part-time on a 75% contract", according to BA. It argues that since she is a new and inexperienced pilot – with about 1,200h commercial aircraft flying time – reducing her monthly flying hours to half the normal amount would mean she accumulates experience at too low a rate for effective learning. BA calculates that Starmer would work an average of eight duty days a month. If she were an experienced pilot, which the carrier says it equates to a minimum 2,000h line flying, the company says it would have no objection to contracting Starmer for 50% flexible working.

David Learmount/London

Source: Flight International