Aer Lingus Leads Europe in Female Pilot Numbers

A survey by the International Society of Women Airline Pilots (IWSAP)has highlighted the widely varying percentages of female airline pilots between regions and individual airlines.

Overall the picture appears to be one of slow progress: 116 airlines provided data for the survey, revealing that out of a total pilot population (for these airlines) of just over 185,000 pilots, around 9,400 were female, making an overall percentage just over of 5% female pilots.
Probably because the IWSAP is a USA-based organisation, the data is most comprehensive for North America and Canada airlines. Nevertheless, the regional figures from the survey are:

Region Total airline pilots Female airline pilots Percentage:
USA 96466 5085 5.27%
Asia 23237 360 1.54%
Europe 22679 1259 5.55%
Canada 10418 706 6.77%
Middle East 9787 223 2.27%
India 8797 1092 12.41%
Australia / New Zealand 7201 425 5.90%
Russia 4250 50 1.17%
South America 648 33 5.09%
Africa 1102 95 8.62%
Iceland 640 70 10.94%
Totals 185,225 9398 5.07%

Within Europe, the data for the individual airlines that provided data for the survey is:

Airline Pilots Total female pilots Female captains Female pilots as percentage:
Aer Lingus 606 60 21 9.90%
airBaltic 338 19 6 5 5.62%
British Airways 4180 245 52 5.86%
Czech Airlines 164 10 3 6.09%
easyJet 3300 164 62 4.96%
KLM 2900 140 42 4.82%
Lufthansa 5400 375 54 6.94%
Norwegian Air Shuttle 2674 102 33 3.81%
SAS Scandinavian Airlines 1510 57 35 3.77%
Transavia 614 52 26 8.46%
TUI 151 8 0 5.29%
Virgin Atlantic 842 27 7 3.20%

TOTAL 22679 1259 341 5.61%

One interpretation of these figures is that for the European airlines surveyed, the entire female airline captain population could be flown in a single wide-body airliner.

Over recent years, most professional major flight schools report a steadily rising number of female cadet pilots, although as a percentage the proportion on any given course rarely exceeds 20%.

easyJet have been particularly vocal in their support of new female pilots, and in March they announced that they now have 222 female pilots (this may be a more up-to-date figure than that in the IWSAP survey). In 2015, when only 6% of easyJet’s new entrant pilots were female, the airline set a target that by 2020 one fifth of the new entrant pilots the airlines attracts should be female.

In 2019 easyJet expects to attract 18% female new entrant pilots and says that it is confident that the 20% target will be achieved in 2020. In the 2018 financial year easyJet attracted 50 female new-entrant co-pilots, which represented 15% of new entrant co-pilots in this period, up from 13% in the 2017 financial year.

In 2018 easyJet attracted 50 female new-entrant co-pilots, which represented 15% of new entrant co-pilots 

In addition to the IWSAP survey, a follow-up survey by travel platform ‘FromAtoB’ claimed that 10% of Flybe’s pilots are female, although without providing specific data. ‘FromAtoB’ stated: “We also looked into Wizz Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Air Dolomiti, TAP Portugal, Iberia, Aegean Airlines, Alitalia, Vueling Airlines, Ryanair, and Turkish Airlines.

The figures for these airlines were not available and spokespeople for the airlines themselves declined to comment.

Author: Rob Hall

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