British Airways has announced that it will fund flying lessons for 200 students across the UK during 2020 to inspire them to reach for the skies.
It follows a trial of the programme this year in partnership with The Air League Trust, when in celebration of its centenary, the airline funded lessons for students who would not normally be able to enjoy this experience at Booker Aviation Flying School in High Wycombe.
After the scheme’s success, for 2020, the airline has committed to fund 200 further flying lessons and will expand the opportunity across numerous flying schools throughout the UK, ensuring the initiative reaches an even broader range of young people.
Thousands of students applied via British Airways’ careers website for places on this year’s programme and the final 200 were chosen based on their passion and enthusiasm for flying, ensuring the opportunity was afforded to a diverse range of young people, including young women.
The airline has been recruiting female pilots for more than 30 years and the percentage of female flight crew at British Airways is currently more than six per cent, almost double the national average. The lessons were designed to give the next generation of pilots a taste of life in the cockpit and show that these opportunities were within their reach.
Talking after her flying lesson, 14-year-old Manpreet Digpaul said: “It makes me feel really privileged to experience this at such a young age. I’m just overwhelmed by the opportunity. Yesterday I was at school and now I’m flying! I want to be a pilot when I’m older and this is helping me to achieve my dreams.”
Angela Williams, British Airways’ Director of People, said: “We know the importance of introducing young people, especially young women, to aviation at an early age in order to inspire them to pursue a career in the cockpit and that’s why I’m thrilled we’re extending this ground-breaking flying initiative to youngsters up and down the UK in 2020. We’re passionate about improving diversity across all areas of our airline and we’re committed to investing in the next generation who will join us in connecting Britain with the world and the world with Britain.”
Alongside the flying lessons, this year British Airways hosted more young people on work experience than ever before with 600 students completing a week-long placement at British Airways across 25 departments.
Work experience is just one of many routes into the airline for young people who are ready to start their career in aviation. As well as its award-winning apprenticeship programme, graduate scheme and business placements, in 2020 British Airways will become the first and only UK airline to operate a paid summer internship, giving current university students a unique insight into the complex world of aviation as interns within its global operation.
Applications are currently open for the graduate scheme, business placements and the new summer internship programme, and enthusiastic hopefuls are encouraged to visit www.careers.ba.com to find out more and to apply.