The global pilot shortage is something we’ve discussed a lot here on Travel Radar. But with a £100,000+ wall facing potential trainee pilots, little has yet been done to tackle the barrier into the industry.
Today this changed, as TUI launched it’s new training program – the MPL Cadet Pilot Program, which is fully funded by TUI.
What is the MPL Scheme?
The Multi-Pilots License (MPL) is a new type of license, aimed to make trainees more familiar with airline-style operations and working in a multi-crew environment. It is comparable to the more traditional Airline Pilots Transport License (ATPL) which comprises of mainly single-pilot flying, with an airline conversion course at the end – known as the MCC/JOC. MPL schemes are regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA) and require a trainee to be tied to a particular airline and aircraft type, with training conducted at a UK approved training organisation (ATO). Unlike the ATPL, the MPL type includes a type-rating and familiarisation of airline standard operating procedures (SOPs), allowing a trainee to immediately transition into the right seat of a commercial airliner.
Several schemes have operated in the past including those by Virgin Atlantic, British Airways (Mainline) and Volotea. Post-pandemic, only a few of these courses have reopened including Generation easyJet, and the BA Cityflyer MPL. TUI has not previously operated an MPL scheme, though announced on 14th December that they would launch such a scheme from September 2023.
The TUI MPL Program will last 19 months and take candidates from little to no flying experience through to the right hand seat as a Cadet Pilot flying the Boeing 737NG/MAX aircraft. Training will include a 26 week ground school phase (ATPL Theory), 30 week basic flying training in the Robin DR401 SEP aircraft and then 22 weeks intermediate and advanced flying in a 737NG simulator. Before induction as a Cadet Pilot, candidates will complete a TUI Immersion Training phase, allowing them to work in different business areas and present improvement ideas back to the business – this is aimed at introducing candidates to the “Live Happy” ethos of TUI.
TUI aims to make the scheme as diverse as possible. As such, eligibility includes:
- Requirement to be 18 years old at commencement of the course in September 2023
- Hold 5 GCSEs including English, Maths and Science at Grade C/4 or above
- Fluency in English (ICAO Level 4 for non-native speakers)
- Able to live and work indefinitely in the UK without visa sponsorship. Hold a valid passport to travel unrestricted globally
- At least 5ft 2in tall
- Able to swim 25m for water drills
- Able/hold a UKCAA Class 1 Medical certificate
- Pass all TUI pre-employment and reference checks
Why is TUI opening an MPL Scheme?
Speaking about the scheme Marco Ciomperlik, chief airline officer of Tui Group, said:
“I’m delighted we’re launching this scheme in the UK and looking forward to welcoming our pilots of the future.
“Diversity is firmly on our agenda at Tui and we’re keen to attract new talent from all different walks of life and challenges ourselves and to think differently in other areas such as innovation, sustainability, engineering and, ultimately, in delivering for our customers.”
Pilots’ union BALPA said it “applauds” Tui’s effort to “address the potential weaknesses in the MPL route into our profession”, and said it “wholeheartedly supports the active intention to broaden the backgrounds of candidates becoming professional pilots”.
Martin Chalk, BALPA general secretary, said: “The best indicators of future star aviators are aptitude to learn the skills required and professional determination – not access to six figure sums of money or gender, religion or cultural heritage.”
Malcolm Sutherland, Managing Director of Tui Airways and Tuifly Nordic, said he hopes the scheme will help tackle the “huge barrier to entry” some demographics face when trying to become a pilot.
“Diversity amongst airline pilots remains low across the whole industry,” he said. “Many industry schemes have sought to address this, but the circa £100,000 cost of pilot training remains a huge barrier to entry and restricts the diversity and demographics of those entering the industry.
“Our cadet scheme will address this, providing the opportunity to become a pilot without a requirement to pay any upfront costs for training.”
Aviation minister Baroness Vere added: “Schemes like this are exactly what is needed to drive new rounds of recruitment, getting young people into aviation and building a workforce that reflects Britain’s diversity.
What’s the catch? Is the course fully funded?
Successful candidates to the scheme will have no upfront costs to pay like other MPL programs including the easyJet MPL and BA Cityflyer MPL. The cost of the training will instead be paid upfront by TUI, with cadets repaying this to the airline through a salary sacrifice scheme known as a ‘bond’. This bond will tie the cadet to fly for TUI for a minimum of four years, repaying the cost of the training through their salary annually. Post deduction, cadet pilots will earn £32,867 for their first four years, after which the salary will increase to that of a First Officer, inline with TUI’s pilot pay scheduling agreements.
For comparison, easyJet MPL Cadets start on a Second Officer of approximately £45,000 per year, and BA Cityflyer MPL Cadets start on £40,000. (Data from Glassdoor)
The course is fully funded for the successful candidates. This includes:
- All course and training costs
- All training and license fees (UKCAA MPL License)
- ATPL theory exam fees
- All required equipment including manuals, iPad and navigation equipment
Cadets will only be liable for additional costs such as their initial Class 1 UKCAA medical certificate, personal travel for interview/selection and during training, and food/personal living expenses – though not accommodation, which is included.
How can I apply?
Candidates can apply directly via the TUI Careers Site. The assessment process is split into six stages:
- Submitting an online application including a copy of your CV – this will be screened by the TUI Recruitment team
- An online questionnaire and online assessments including verbal, numerical and logical reasoning tests. There is a 7 day period to complete these
- A one-way digital interview, answering a series of questions. Recordings will then be reviewed by the TUI Recruitment team. There is a 7 day period to complete these
- An assessment day at the TUI Training Centre. This will include a group exercise and individual interviews with the TUI Recruitment team
- The final assessment stage is a flying test with the TUI Airline Training team. This will be in a light aircraft with a focus on pilot aptitude. No previous experience is required
- Offer! If successful, candidates will be offered a place on the MPL Program, alongside a conditional offer of employment following training
It is likely this scheme will attract many applicants, so interested candidates should consider applying as soon as possible.
What are your thoughts on the TUI MPL Pilot Program? Is this the start of more accessible entry to the flight-deck for prospective pilots? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And from Travel Radar, way to go TUI.