Virgin gender target takes off

May 04, 2018
Virgin gender target pilots
Photo: Glenn Hunt

Virgin Australia is doing its bit to address the massive global imbalance in female to male pilots by setting a 50-50 gender target for its 2018 pilot intake.

The airline will run two ab initio courses for those with no flying experience next year, each with 10 to 12 cadets in them.

The 54-week program at South Australia’s Flight Training Adelaide will see the cadets graduate with a commercial pilot license and offered roles as certified first and second officers with the airline. Graduating pilots are guaranteed a position with the airline.

Virgin Australia group executive people Lucinda Gemmell said it was important that Virgin recruit and invest in programs such as its pilot cadetship to secure a pipeline of talent for the carrier.

“in what’s typically a male-dominated area on the industry, we’re encouraging more females to consider aviation as a career and apply for this excellent program,’’ she said. “Globally three percent of pilots are women.

“Our previous cadetships have had up to 50 percent females so we’re confident we can reach this target this year.”

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The Virgin move comes as Australian airlines are looking for ways of coping with future growth in an environment where competition for pilots is increasing and airlines in high-growth markets such as China are offering lucrative deals to attract foreign talent.

Regional airports across Australia are competing for a $20-million Qantas pilot training academy capable of ultimately handling up to 500 students a year and due to be established in 2019.

The Qantas Group Pilot Academy will initially focus on training up to 100 new pilots a year for direct entry into the group but management expects to tap into demand in the expanding Asia-Pacific market.

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Aircraft manufacturer Boeing estimates the world will need 640,000 pilots in the next 20 years, with about 40 percent of the demand in the Asia-Pacific.

Carriers in Australia are already facing difficulties finding pilots for some roles and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia has successfully lobbied the federal government to relax visa laws and allow foreign aviators to work in the country.