EasyJet to recruit 1000 pilots as Ryanair struggles with passenger numbers

Image credit: DT

EasyJet has said it wants to recruit over 1000 new pilots over the next five years as airlines continue to struggle to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firm has launched a recruitment ad campaign with a particular focus on encouraging more women to become an airline pilot to address the gender imbalance in the industry. Last year, it was estimated that less than 5 per cent of UK pilots were female.

The recruitment drive follows a major round of job cuts by the budget airline in May 2020, just a few months after the pandemic saw a drastic fall in passenger numbers worldwide.

It cut around 30 per cent of its staff - roughly 4,500 jobs - as it attempted to scale down its operations in the face of reduced demand for air travel that is expected to last until 2024 at the earliest.

EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said he was “delighted” that his firm was reopening its pilot training programme for the first time since the pandemic hit.

“EasyJet has long championed greater diversity in the flight deck and this series of ads aims to highlight the extraordinary breadth of skills our pilots have and show that pilots can be found in all walks of life, in a bid to attract more diverse candidates,” he added.

“We continue to focus on challenging gendered stereotypes of the career, having doubled the number of female pilots flying with us in recent years. We also acknowledge that whilst we have made progress, there is still work to do. Increasing diversity in all of its forms in the flight deck is a long-term focus for easyJet and so we will continue to ensure we lead the industry on this issue.”

Meanwhile, one of its largest competitors, Ryanair, has said missed a major target for passenger numbers. It said it had carried 11.3 million passengers in October and 10.2 million in November, but despite the holidays, just 9.5 million passengers travelled with Ryanair in December, far below its 11 million target.

“The sudden emergence of the Omicron variant and the media hysteria it generated in December, forced many European governments to reimpose travel restrictions in the run-up to Christmas, which significantly weakened peak Christmas and New Year bookings and fares,” Ryanair said.

The firm has still experienced a strong recovery from the worst parts of the pandemic. During the three last months of 2021, it said, 31.1 million passengers travelled on its planes, nearly four times more than a year earlier.

Today, the government in the UK has proposed giving airline customers easier access to refunds when faced with unfair practices.

These include the possible creation of a fairer compensation model for when domestic UK flights are delayed which would be based on the current compensation model used by rail and ferry customers. The Department for Transport said this will see “a significant shift” away from the current ‘set rate’ model.

Passengers would instead be able to claim compensation based on the length of the flight delay and linked to cost of travel rather than having to meet a certain threshold – which is currently a 3-hour delay.

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