British Airways has unveiled a new program aimed at removing the main obstacle standing in the way of potential recruits achieving their goals.
The Speedbird Pilot Academy program will cover the $123,000 cost of training 60 recruits and their lodging and food expenses during their 16-month training period, according to an announcement made by the British national flag carrier on September 19, 2023.
The airline hopes that by covering the applicant’s high pilot training costs, applicants from all backgrounds will be inspired to apply.
“The Speedbird Pilot Academy will make the ambition of becoming a British Airways pilot a reality for people who’d previously written the option off because of the cost barrier,” Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman, and CEO, said.
The main reason people who would love to fly for a living don’t choose this career path is the high costs associated with training to become a pilot.
Often, those who are able to pursue becoming pilots are those who may have come from wealthier backgrounds or who have taken out sizable loans.
“Our aim is to attract the very best talent out there for our future generation of pilots. Whether someone is just leaving school or embarking on a second career they never thought possible, we’re levelling the playing field by removing the initial training cost barrier to make a flying career more accessible to a wider range of people and giving everyone an equal chance,” Doyle added.
The program is now accepting applications through the airline’s careers website. Those interested are urged to act quickly, as the program will close on September 25, 2023, due to the anticipated unprecedented demand.
Early in 2024, training will start, and after finishing the program, recruits will be hired by the airline as full-time, salaried pilots.
To spread the word about the program to young people from Minority Ethnic backgrounds, other communities across the nation, and young women in the aviation industry, BA is collaborating closely with Fantasy Wings, a UK organization for diversity in aviation and a member of the BA Better World Community Fund.
Hannah Vaughan, a 32-year-old senior first officer and former cadet for British Airways, called the program “groundbreaking” and highlighted the importance of attracting the best candidates and removing obstacles that may have previously discouraged people from applying.
“I know there will be a lot of people who have never thought of being a pilot as a realistic option for them, but this cadet scheme changes that – and might just change your life,” Vaughan said.
- More information can be found, and applications made, on British Airways’ careers site
- *Private training costs for aspiring pilots can cost around £100,000