UK budget carrier EasyJet is on course to hit its target to ensure that 20% of its new pilot intake is female by 2020.

Marc Parent, chief executive of simulator specialist CAE, says EasyJet “will achieve this goal next year”.

Parent, speaking on 1 October at the opening of a new training centre at London Gatwick airport for which EasyJet is the largest client, said the fact that only 5% of pilots are women is a “truly shocking statistic”.

David Morgan, interim chief operations officer at EasyJet, declines to confirm Parent’s comment, but notes that the carrier achieved a female intake rate of 15% in 2018 and is “on target” to reach the higher figure next year.

A more ambitious goal is likely to the follow in the future, and a “new plan will be shared towards the end of the year”, says Morgan.

Inauguration of the Gatwick facility, which includes five Airbus A320 simulators dedicated to EasyJet, came days after the opening of a second site in Manchester, with a third facility in Milan to come on line on 10 October.

Supported by a 10-year agreement struck in November 2018 between the training provider and the UK budget carrier, the deal represents an investment by EasyJet of £100 million ($123 million) over the period.

Although there is room to expand its operation at the London site “we are good now for a while”, says Morgan.

Parent says CAE is “honoured” to have been selected as the airline’s “training partner of choice” for the next decade.

At present there are seven full flight simulators installed at Gatwick: five for the A320 and single units for the A330 and A350. A new Boeing 787 device will be added shortly, while five more simulators will be moved from CAE’s existing Gatwick site by the end of next year.

In addition, a CAE 600XR flight training device will be added before year-end, allowing EasyJet offload some certain training tasks from the full flight simulators.

Other carriers using the Gatwick facility – CAE’s largest site in Europe – include Aurigny, LOT Polish Airlines, Norwegian, SAS, TUI and Virgin Atlantic.

At full capacity, the site will be capable of training 13,000 pilots each year, as well as providing instruction for cabin crew.

Parent says it is vital to expanding training capacity to cope with its forecast that the industry will require an additional 300,000 pilots by 2028.

“50% of the pilots needed over the next 10 years have not even started training yet,” he notes.

Across its 59 centres globally, CAE trains 220,000 crew each year, including 135,000 pilots.