We are pleased to announce that the BALPA company council has concluded a New Entrant Contract that delivers significant improvements to those entering the profession in easyJet.

Trainees will now have their time under contract with an agency capped at 12 months as a probationary period after which they will become an easyJet employed second officer on £38,000 per year.

On completion of 12 months as an employed second officer pilots will be promoted to First Officer. And, on completion of 24 months as an employed First Officer, they will be promoted to Senior First Officer. 

Upon promotion to command, the normal command contract will apply. The company have confirmed that they will not be imposing part time contract variations on new commanders.

Future ab-intio pilots will be subject to a pre-selection process for entry into an easyJet career. New loan arrangements are under development (involving continuing consultation with BALPA) which will help make the overall process more affordable. These measures include the underwriting of loans by easyJet, thus reducing the burden on cadets and enabling better negotiation of interest rates, payments holidays and the ability to pay over varying lengths of time.

The new contract will bring the vast majority of the pilots into the easyJet/BALPA recognition agreement. This means that rather than their conditions being dealt with individually via the likes of CTC and Parc, the pilots will enjoy collective representation which will give them a voice and allow their conditions to be centrally negotiated.

However, as we know the issue runs wider than easyJet and it remains one of BALPA’s key priorities to drive casualisation out of the whole industry and make it a profession that people not only aspire to, but one that treats them as professionals.

BALPA is supporting this work with a number of activities.

Playing by the rules. UK employment law is amongst the least strict in Europe, but Europe’s more progressive employment laws can be turned to our advantage - as we found in the holiday pay success.

Top lawyers are advising on possible legal action using the Agency Worker Regulations against employment agencies that trade in this type of pilot supply. However this is not an easy process and needs claimants as tough as the lead claimant “Sally Williams” in our holiday pay claim; someone prepared to put themselves on the line.

Another set of rules surround taxation; a topical issue as Amazon are discovering. BALPA has engaged tax experts to support a number of members in Ryanair on atypical contracts who have volunteered to have their tax treatment put under the microscope. BALPA will be engaging with HMRC to test whether these arrangements are appropriate. Our approach is very much ‘support the member but challenge the system.’

Telling it as it is. BALPA continues to warn would-be pilots (and their parents) of the risks of entering the profession. At a recruitment show last month, attended by hundreds of aspiring pilots, the message was spelled out starkly and BALPA’s information stand was mobbed all day with people desperate for the inside track. BALPA’s own website carries similar warnings.

Union organisation. What has been quite interesting about our work is the confidence that has grown amongst new pilots to band together, with BALPA support, and to start to push back on their treatment.

Flight safety. As a professional association we do not “play the safety card”, but that does not prevent us from highlighting genuine concerns. Concerns that must be shared by our own regulator who has, within their own rule set, CAP 789 that which requires airlines to have “adequacy and supervision of staff” and foresees contract staff being the exception. We are taking this message to the international pilot community with the aim of pressurising ICAO to do the right thing. 

Campaigning. BALPA is pushing airlines to do the right thing, and progress has been made in Monarch and Thomson. But the problem had been growing in easyJet where hundreds of pilots have been engaged via agencies on flexicrew contracts for years on end and with no definitive career path.  The growing concern amongst permanent pilots found voice in BALPA’s ‘easyJet plane-easyJet pilot’ campaign, a campaign that also included media work around the company AGM as well as a very public leafleting of shareholders and the Board. Management came to the table and have responded positively. Now, after a month of intensive negotiations, a new entrant contract has just been secured.