The first ever female pilot of British Airways says that she is “disappointed” that the airlines offer such “poor” maternity leave terms.
Lynn Barton broke through the glass ceiling of the company in 1987/ In an interview with the Telegraph, she said that airlines must stop paying “lip service” to being diverse and “realise the error of their ways.”
Currently, almost all airlines, including British Airways, offer six weeks’ maternity leave at 90 percent of pay – which is the statutory minimum.
It was revealed by the Telegraph that British Airways “gagged” a group of its pilots who wanted to discuss the issue to Parliament.
Barton praised the “brave” women who attempted to have their voices heard.
She said that she was “very surprised ” when she discovered how limited the maternity policies of the airlines are, which can place women off the career.
She stated: “I had no idea how poorly all the major airlines were doing.”
She added: “I hope they realise the error of their ways, get their act together and say – this is not good enough, chaps.”
She continued: “You can’t just pay lip service to trying to be an equal opportunities employer, you’ve got to clean up your act.”
Barton said that the debt that most pilots accumulate to afford the tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of training make it much more difficult for female pilots who want to start a family.
They also have a hard time with childcare when feeling forced to get back to work after six weeks.
According to the latest figures from the Civil Aviation Authority, only 4.6 percent of pilots are women
Barton said that she is “very disappointed” that the proportion of female pilots is so low more than 30 years after she became the pioneer of British Airways. She said that part of the problem is young girls “ruling themselves out” of a career as a pilot.
Barton said: “I am quite saddened by it.” She is now retired, however, she said that she had a “lovely career.”
She stated: “British Airways always said it wants to employ the best of the best.”
She added: “If half of your population rules itself out before even applying, you can’t get the best of the best.”
Last February, the pilots’ union, Balpa, organised a meeting in Parliament for approximately 30 pilots from various airlines to emphasise “grossly inadequate” industry-wide policies. Before the meeting, British Airways wrote a note to Balpa banning the BA pilots from sharing their stories at the meeting.
A spokesperson for British Airways stated: “We, like the majority of UK airlines, offer industry-standard maternity pay for our pilots. We are proud to have the most female pilots of any UK airline.“