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On A-level day, pilots’ union calls for measures to turn great A-levels into great careers; like being a pilot

The British Airline Pilots’ Association is calling on the Government and aviation industry to put in place measures to help turn great A-levels into great careers; like being a pilot.

BALPA is concerned that students from less affluent backgrounds who have achieved top A-level grades, could be put off becoming a pilot by the cost of training.

Aspiring pilots have told BALPA that having to pay up to £100,000 for training leads to a two-tier system with those from poorer backgrounds unable to face the debt burden, while those with deeper pockets but less talent, able to go on and fulfil their dreams.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association is calling on airlines and decision makers to ensure top A-level students from all backgrounds have access to a career in aviation and that selection is based on ability to do the job and not ability to pay.

BALPA is also campaigning for rules to be changed so that pilots who are required by their employer to pay for vital training, such as type rating courses, can claim tax relief in a similar way an airline would if it were to fund the training.

The Association says many of its members, who have tried to claim tax relief, have experienced difficulty in persuading HMRC to accept their claims.

BALPA has met with senior treasury and HMRC officials, the TUC and other professional bodies to discuss options and is campaigning for the rules to be amended to make it easier for pilots to claim the tax relief to which the union believes they are entitled.

BALPA Head of Membership and Career Services, Wendy Pursey, said:

“We want to ensure a career as a pilot attracts top students. How deep their pockets are shouldn’t be part of the consideration. But time and again we hear of aspiring pilots from less affluent backgrounds being put off by the huge investment they have to make in their own training.

“The financial burden has a real impact on those pilots and has wider repercussions for the aviation industry.

“We are urging the industry and Government to do more to more to ensure recruitment is based on talent and not on who has the deepest pockets.

“Another big issue is the fact that pilots who have to pay for training that is required as part of their employment, such as type rating courses, are not finding it easy to claim the tax relief that would otherwise be available to their employers.

“We believe this is unfair and have been in talks with the Government, HMRC, the TUC and other professional bodies to look at how this can be altered to ensure pilots are able to get the relief we believe they are entitled to.

“We are also continuing to support individual members in making claims for tax relief in relation to self-funded type rating courses.”

For more information about how BALPA is helping aspiring pilots click here.