Home finance Don't become a pilot as there are no jobs just huge debts, says union

Don't become a pilot as there are no jobs just huge debts, says union

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The pilots union Balpa has warned prospective pilots from starting any training courses, saying they would be left with huge debts and no prospect of employment.

Trainee pilots could end up owing more than £100,000 and would not find a job to pay back loans, the union said.

About 200 trainee pilots in UK flight schools who were set for jobs with easyJet have already had their conditional offers of employment withdrawn, after the airline looked to cut hundreds of pilot jobs in the summer as the effects of Covid-19 battered the industry.

Balpa said it was an extraordinary step for them to issue the warning, but it would be irresponsible not to act.

Wendy Pursey, its head of membership and careers, said there were about 10,000 unemployed commercial pilots across Europe, including 1,600 in the UK, while many others were working part-time or on reduced pay. The easyJet trainees now had “no clear route to even a licence, far less a job”, she said.

Others attempting to enter the aviation industry have been hard hit, including 122 trainee air traffic controllers at Nats being laid off before gaining a licence.

The difficulties were underlined by British Airways telling staff on Thursday that many more of them would be placed on furlough, as the airline scales back flights through November. Its few remaining long-haul services from Gatwick will be suspended.

Under the lockdown rules that came into effect on Thursday, all holiday or leisure travel is banned with fines for breaches starting at £200.

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A BA spokeswoman said the airline had been “urgently reviewing” its schedule but would be operating flights to “bring home thousands of customers currently abroad, and ensuring people who are permitted to travel in and out of the UK can continue to do so.”

The industry body Airlines UK said the extension of the furlough scheme, which announced on Thursday, was welcome but warned that carriers would “urgently need access to further liquidity measures to shore up their balance sheets”, with more flights grounded. EasyJet confirmed it had had talks with the German government about available support measures, but denied it had made a formal request for funds.



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