Ryanair reveals worst gender pay gap in airline industry

Ryanair has revealed a gender pay gap of 72% – the worst in the airline industry – with women making up only 3% of the top quarter of earners at the budget airline.

The figure is among the most imbalanced yet reported in any sector, about four times the UK average and outstripping that of easyJet, whose 45% gap had attracted widespread criticism.

Median hourly pay among Ryanair’s 1,182 UK staff is 71.8% lower for women (67% lower on mean hourly pay), while median bonus pay for women was 3% lower (with a mean difference of 21%).

With most of Ryanair’s management and administration based in Ireland and excluded from the figures – including its chief executive, Michael O’Leary, and its all-male senior management board – more than 95% of the firm’s UK-based staff are pilots or cabin crew. Only eight of Ryanair’s 554 UK-based pilots are female, while women make up more than two-thirds of the low-paid cabin crew.

Ryanair said: “Like all airlines, our gender pay in the UK is materially affected by the relatively low numbers of female pilots in the aviation industry.

“In recent years, the number of female pilots applying to Ryanair has increased and we are committed to developing this welcome trend. It is a feature of the aviation industry that more males than females choose to enter the pilot profession.”

Ryanair has yet to spell out what steps it will take to recruit more women into higher paid positions.

The second worst figure among airlines is Jet2.com, with a median gap of 49.7% (mean 53.5%) while the best is British Airways, with a median of 10% (mean 35%) – a figure likely to reflect higher-paid, long-standing crew as well as a relatively large non-flying UK-based staff.

EasyJet, one of the first airlines to report, has pledged that at least one in five of its new pilot recruits will be women by 2020. Its new chief executive, Johan Lundgren, who took a £34,000 pay cut to match the salary of his predecessor Carolyn McCall this year, said he wanted to make a personal commitment as the airline attempted to address the imbalance.

According to easyJet’s staff surveys, most male pilots had decided on their career before the age of 11, while most of their female pilots had not been encouraged to think of it as a career until after school. Last month, the airline announced a partnership with Girlguiding that includes sponsoring the new aviation badge for Brownies.