24Hr emergency line +44 (0)20 8476 4099
Join Balpa

Baby on Board reaches its first birthday

by Nancy Jackson Media and Communications Officer

Last February, BALPA launched the Baby on Board campaign, to highlight the problem statutory maternity poses for pilots balancing working life with maternity and childcare commitments.

A year on and we’ve made some progress but there is still a way to go before we can say that we have seen an end to the maternity pay scandal? From its birth, our newborn campaign grew. Now, just like a year-old child, it is making baby steps.

In 2019, nearly all of our UK airlines offered only statutory maternity pay. Today, some of those airlines, such as Jet2, Virgin Atlantic and SAS PARC, have taken note of our campaign and made enhancements to what they offer piloting mums. BALPA has welcomed this change and is encouraging other airlines to follow suit.

But our toddler has a way to go before we can say that the aviation industry is up and running when it comes to parent friendly working.

Despite big marketing campaigns by airlines claiming to want to increase diversity in the piloting workforce and to attract more women to the role, statutory maternity is still all that’s on offer at the majority of UK airlines. This is an obstacle that we believe puts women off choosing piloting as a career and that is why BALPA continues to campaign for change.

In the last year BALPA has worked hard to ensure the issue is being talked about by aviation and Government decision makers. We have held briefings with MPs and even discussed the issue at Number 10.

Virginia Crosbie MP and BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton in Downing Street

And we are not stopping now. In the year to come the female pilot’s group that is leading the campaign will continue to meet to plot how we move the agenda on.

Internationally, BALPA has representatives in the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), Female Pilots’ Working Group. They are challenging the stereotype of a pilot and tackling the difficulties of working in a predominantly male environment. Our BALPA representatives have raised the issue of maternity pay with the international community and have raised the profile of the Baby on Board campaign with pilots around the world in this article in InterPilot magazine.

BALPA and our Company Councils also continue to push airlines and the Government to make real changes.

So, as we mark the first birthday of Baby on Board it is clear that the issue is out there and it is being talked about and BALPA will do all it can to push for an aviation industry that embraces family friendly employment.