Pilots’ fury at government ad advising flight crew to retrain for other jobs

Simon Calder
·1-min read
 (HM Government)
(HM Government)

The main pilots’ union has reacted furiously to a government advertisement appearing to suggest that flight crew should retrain for jobs in cyber.

The ad depicts a female first officer. The copy reads: “Naomi’s next job could be in cyber. (She just doesn’t know it yet.) Retrain. Reskill. Reboot.”

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) told The Independent: “It’s astonishing that the government can be so tin-eared. We’ve been calling for government support for the airline industry for months. It was the first in and will likely be the last one out of this crisis.

“We’ve already seen hundreds of pilots lose their jobs or take significant cuts to their pay. And yet the government’s response is to casually tell young pilots who’ve spent over £100,000 on highly-specialised training to give up their career, abandon their skills and their hopes and dreams.

“Aviation will power the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery, rebuild our trade and global connectivity and we will need pilots like ‘Naomi’ to do so.”

It takes several years training to become a pilot.

Tim Darby, a Boeing 737 pilot for Norwegian, tweeted: “What a disgraceful advert by the #UKgovernment.

“They should be helping us, not dumping us on a scrap heap – disgusting.”

Earlier this month the government pulled an advert depicting a ballet dancer, with the same copy.

At the time the prime minister’s official spokesperson said it was “part of a campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to consider a career in cyber-security”.

The Independent has asked the government for a response.

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