British pilots have today unanimously agreed to say 'enough is enough' to the ever-growing use of 'contract pilots' in UK airlines.

At its Annual Delegates Conference, the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) heard from two young pilots, recently trained, who spoke of the struggle they have had to fulfil their dream of being an airline pilot.

BALPA General Secretary, Jim McAuslan, said:

'I have rarely seen conference so united, and so determined to tackle an issue.  

'Unlike in previous decades it is now normal for trainee pilots to have to pay for all their training themselves, with no guarantee job at the end of it, and then be forced onto different contracts from permanent  pilots with substandard terms and conditions.  And in certain circumstances pilots are forced to set up their own company so the airline can treat them as contractors, rather than employees, which they effectively are.

'The result is pilots not just on lower terms and conditions than permanent employees, but their effectively being exploited because of their love for the job.  Pilots should not have to sleep in airport car parks because they can't afford a hotel room; that's not good for flight safety. And it is simply wrong for recently-qualified pilots to have to service debts so huge that they have to pay £1,400 a month of their £1,600 salary in repayments.

'BALPA is not going to allow this situation to continue.  This unfairness needs to be tackled across the industry.  That's why today, permanent pilots in easyJet expressed their support to their 'FlexiCrew' colleagues who are on these other contracts.  The message is simple: easyJet plane – easyJet pilot.

'But this is not just about easyJet.  We will be working airline by airline to ensure this is tackled.

'We will be putting pressure on the regulator to ensure that their own rules around contract pilots are followed, which we do not think they currently are, and where we think they are insufficient, urging change.

'We will be considering all legal avenues to stop this practice.

'We will be looking at the tax implications of airlines' use of contract pilots, and ensuring our members have all the information they need to ensure they are protected.  We have already urged the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee to look into the tax issues around contract pilots.

'And conference did not rule out the use of industrial action to deal with this insidious threat to pilots' futures.'

The TUC's General Secretary-designate, Frances O'Grady, spoke at BALPA's conference yesterday and expressed her support for BALPA's many campaigns, including our desire to tackle the growing use of casual labour in aviation.