Even the pilots pay on some low-cost flights

Unions and novices are complaining that only the rich can afford to keep up their training

Pilots' unions and trainee pilots are warning that only the wealthiest, rather than the best, candidates will become pilots because growing numbers of airlines are having cadets "pay to fly". Novice pilots who already have a basic licence are having to pay around £28,000 to achieve the "type rating" qualification needed to fly particular aircraft. Some are also being charged £260 for an interview.

The issue was raised this month by the Dutch pilots' union, VNV, which claimed that low-cost airlines, including Ryanair, are "exploiting" novice pilots. Now the British pilots' union, Balpa, has expressed its concerns about the practice, which it says is becoming more common. "Previous generations of pilots had their type and line training paid for by the airline," explained Richard Toomer, a Balpa spokesman. "The pilot was then bonded to the airline for a period of years, so that the costs of the training had to be repaid only if the pilot left during this period.

"However, many of today's trainee pilots, already debt-laden from paying around £80,000 for their basic licence, must then fund their own type rating and line training. There is growing concern about wider repercussions, including industrial relations, engagement, health, welfare, safety and quality of working life," he added.

CAE, a training company currently contracted to provide training for Ryanair, has charged an "assessment fee" of £260 to interview pilots for selection. This year, training in the Ryanair type-rating programme cost up to €28,500 (£24,000) plus VAT – according to an advert posted online.

One pilot with experience of training for Ryanair, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "They say that it is a cost, not a price, but they make money from it. They try to sell training regardless of the opportunities... the more pilots there are, the more money they make. These pilots aren't necessarily the best, but the ones that can afford it."

Evert van Zwol, chairman of the interim council of the Ryanair Pilot Group – which is not recognised by the airline – says: "We have a very strong feeling the total charges are higher than the actual costs.

"It's probably not illegal, but is it something we want to endorse as a society? I don't think it's right to have pilots pay all the costs." He added that, in addition, Ryanair pilots are mostly self-employed and get fewer hours in winter months.

A spokesman for easyJet announced earlier this month that it will now underwrite trainees' loans, offering better terms and financial advice. "For the early years... your family are supporting you as it is expensive to train," he said. "But you quickly earn a significant salary and the early sacrifice pays off. Because we are a growing airline, our guys can become captains within six or seven years, with a minimum pay of £120,000."

Robin Kiely, a spokesman for Ryanair, said: "Since Ryanair only recruits fully qualified pilots, no Ryanair pilots 'pay to fly'. These pilot union claims are simply untrue."

Philip Landau, an employment lawyer at Landau Zeffertt Weir, said: "There's no obligation on an employer to provide the payment for your training qualification. Many do, but it's largely a matter of contract between employer and employee. If there is a custom and practice for paying for training, they could be bound by this as an implied term."

Meanwhile, paying pilots as self-employed operators may soon end. A spokesman for HM Revenue & Customs said: "Employment status is never a matter of personal choice and is always dictated by the specific facts. When the employment relationship does not accurately reflect the underlying reality of the relationship... we intervene."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Sudan, the last male northern white rhino
environmentThe death of a white northern rhino in Kenya has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth