Capt Gordon MacFarlane's letter described our pilot sponsorship scheme as a "Token Gesture" (Flight International, 17-23 September). It is interesting that, on the same page, another letter, "Training Drain", refers to the "general malaise which is affecting commercial aviation organisations at present, namely the lack of investment in their own futures".

With many airlines suspending their ab initio programmes and job losses affecting the industry, I believe that Britannia Airways' sponsorship scheme is a significant step and demonstrates that Britannia is a forward-thinking organisation committed to investing in quality training for its future pilot workforce. Britannia has been one of the few major airlines to have recruited and trained pilots with low experience. This scheme extends our training philosophy to provide opportunities for those who do not already hold a professional licence.

Contrary to Capt MacFarlane's comments, Britannia has a history of long service among its pilots (including pilots sponsored in the 1980s) and a leaver rate among the lowest in the industry, yet many of our pilots are educated to degree level and beyond.

Despite the suggestion that appropriately qualified applicants would be in short supply, the response to our advertisement has been excellent. There are enough well qualified, motivated candidates out there who relish this opportunity.

In the current climate, I believe that Britannia's commitment to invest in training for the future is a bold and significant move, which should be applauded rather than mocked.

Chris Hope Pilot manager Manchester, Britannia Airways

Source: Flight International