Pilot Salary UK: Everything You Need To Know

Pilot Salary UK

Airline Pilot Salary UK


Flight training is incredibly expensive. Therefore, you need to ensure that your return on investment will be worthwhile, right?

I understand that. Even though working full time as a first officer or a captain is an amazing career, you must ensure it will also pay the bills.

Pilots in England can expect a generous salary and will find themselves in the top 1% of earners towards the end of their careers.

Therefore, the salaries aren’t bad, even compared to London’s cost of living.

However, the Brits receive a much lower average pilot pay than an airline pilot’s salary in America.

For example, a top-earning, senior long-haul captain with decades of flying experience will likely receive a pay packet worth over $500,000 annually in America.

Whereas senior long-haul captains in the UK can expect to earn around £200,000 as a maximum, with some earning slightly more with overtime etc.

With this, a starting airline pilot salary UK is likely to be around the £45,000-£55,000 mark. 

Let’s discuss everything related to a pilot salary UK.

Have you ever wondered how much pilots earn in the UK?

How much is a pilot salary UK? Let’s discuss more about how much a commercial pilot can expect to make in the United Kingdom.

The average salary for UK pilots is roughly £85,000 annually, but this can fluctuate based on experience and aircraft type.

This salary range will cover inexperienced first and second officers, sometimes known as co-pilot, as well as senior first officers (SFO), all the way up to experienced captains.

You can expect to start on roughly £50,000 a year and make up to, as mentioned, around £200,000 a year at airlines that offer long-haul, as flying bigger jets often pays more.

Even at low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair, captains can make at least £150,000 annually after roughly a decade of service.

These major operators will nearly always pay more than smaller airlines like Flybe/Logan Air, which run a small operation. Therefore, these often attract more pilots.

Cost For A Pilot Training Programme UK?

Pilot sat on a stack of dollar bills and cash.

Before discussing pilot salary UK, it might be worth discussing just how much it costs to complete flight school.

You can read our full blog post – ‘how much does it cost to become a pilot?‘.

However, as a rough guide, you can expect to spend around £70,000-£100,000 to complete your pilot training on the integrated scheme.

You may also be required to pay the cost for a Type Rating, as I did, to allow you to fly a certain aircraft. This can further add to the cost of flying school.

Personal experience – I spent a whopping £130,000 to become a commercial airline pilot.

If you want to find out how you can fund your pilot training, read our dedicated blog post.

First Officer Starting Salary In The UK - After Your ATPL Licence Qualification

Two first-officers (pilots) standing in front of an aircraft. Signifying first-officer/starting pilot salary UK.

So what is a start pilot salary UK?

Starting salaries for first officers in the UK vary depending on factors like airline and aircraft type.

It’s also worth noting that some cadets fresh out of a training program, particularly the integrated course, will likely have a ‘bond’.

This is fairly difficult to explain, but regarding how it will benefit you, you will likely be paid about £12,000 less per year in terms of salary but then receive a £1000 payment each month tax-free.

This is far more tax efficient for you. It’s all nonsense to do with the airline and the flight school, so don’t worry too much regarding the details yet (make sure you know what’s going on before you sign the contract, though)!

As a rough guide, you can expect to make between £40,000 – £60,000 in your first year as a pilot in the UK.

For example, a ‘second officer’ at Easyjet will receive roughly £47,000 yearly, not including flight pay. You can expect to fly between 700-900 hours per year.

This flight pay is £25 an hour, which means cadets straight out of commercial pilot training have the potential to make over £60,000 a year. Not a bad starting salary!

Captain Pilot Salary In The UK - Latter Career Progression

An airline captain pulling a suitcase full of money, signifying a pilot salary UK is higher for captains.

An airline captain can expect a very nice salary. And quite rightly so, they have a lot of responsibility.

A short-haul airline captain can expect a pilot salary UK of roughly £150,000 a year at the higher end.

Long-haul captains might make over £200,000 a year at airlines like Virgin Atlantic.

These captains will likely start on a salary of around £100,000 a year. But it can be much more than this.

Read for some pilot salary UK examples for easyJet, Ryanair, and Virgin.

Pilot Career Progression - Aviation In England

A chart running from left to right, increasing as it moves across. With it, an image of a new, experienced and very experienced pilot above. As the chart moves along, pilots make more money, signifying that a pilot salary increases with experience.

Now you know a starting pilot salary UK, let us look at how the ranks work.

Pilots will work through their careers following a specified hierarchy. They are as follows:

  • Second Officer (SO) – This is usually the rank given to a new entrant joining an airline for the first time with minimal experience. However, very few airlines still use this second officer rank. Once they have enough hours, they will be promoted.
  • First Officer (FO) – This rank is given to nearly all flight crew who are not captains. First officers can have minimal experience or be very experienced and senior. You will find a first officer in the right-hand seat.
  • Senior First Officer (SFO) – These pilots will operate the same role as a first officer. Still, they will be promoted to SFO once they have achieved a certain level of experience or time within a company. This usually comes with a large pay rise from the FO role.
  • Captain – This is the commander in charge of the aircraft. Airline captains sit in the left-hand seat of the aircraft. Captains will usually be paid a large sum of money for their role.
  • Training Captain – These captains are specially trained to carry out pilot training. This training could be for new pilots with no experience or for the training required for a FO to become a captain.
You can read more about a pilot career progression here. 

easyJet Pilot Salary UK

What is the pilot salary UK for easyJet pilots?

easyJet Captains can expect a basic salary of roughly £115,000 per year. Plus a 5%-15% bonus once they have been in the airline for some time.

  • They will see a 5% increase in their yearly salary after 2-4 years of service.
  • They will see a 10% increase in their yearly salary after 5-9 years of service.
  • They will see a 15% increase in their yearly salary after their 10th year of service.

This means that after working for the airline for 10+ years, an easyJet captain will likely earn over £130,000 annually.

They will then also make ~£35 per flight hour. The typical 700-900 flight hours they will fly per year will see a captain potentially earning over £150,000 a year.

This doesn’t include other incentives such as pensions, share schemes, profit sharing, etc. 

Considering that you could become an easyJet captain in around 5 years, this is a fantastic salary.

A First officer pilot salary UK at EasyJet ranges between £40,000-£75,000, with the same length of service bonuses as mentioned above.

A first officer flight pays around £25 per hour.

This means first officers at easyJet can make almost £100k a year!

*These Pilot Salary UK figures serve as a rough guide and might not be 100% accurate at the time of reading*.

Ryanair Pilot Salary UK

How much do Ryanair pilots make? Let’s explore a Ryanair pilot salary. Let’s base this on 750 flying hours per year! 

PSBH (Per Scheduled Block Hour Flown) – From park brake released to park brake reset at the destination!

  • Line Training/Cadet Pay: £16,800 Basic + £12 PSBH – £25,800
  • Second Officer (Post Line Training – 500 hours): £32,500 Basic + £16 PSBH – Roughly – £44,500
  • Junior First Officer: (500 Hours – 1500 Hours): £44,500 Basic + £20 PSBH – £59,500
  • First Officer: (1500+ Hours): £55,500 Basic + £10 PSBH – £63,000
  • Captain: £111,000 Basic + £17 PSBH – £123,000
  • Annual Leave Rate: £104 Per Day (29 days a year)
  • Working Day Off: FO £266 CP £525
  • Night Stop: £68

Therefore the pilot salary UK for Ryanair pilots is very lucrative, with pilots able to become a captain and earn a good salary in just five years.

*These Pilot Salary UK figures serve as a rough guide and might not be 100% accurate at the time of reading*.

Virgin Atlantic Pilot Salary UK

Pilot Salary UK – Virgin Atlantic.

  • Experienced Captain ~ £170,000 annually.
  • Capt base ~ £130,000
  • FO top £110,000
  • FO base ~ £65,000
  • SO top ~ £64,000
  • SO base ~ £62,000

Its worth noting that in airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, it can take many decades before you have the seniority to become an airline captain!

Factors Impacting A Pilot Salary UK

The UK’s national average wage for airline pilots is influenced by a number of factors, including experience and seniority, type of aircraft flown, and location.

White License Do You Need To Become An Airline Pilot UK?

To earn a pilot salary UK, what qualifications do you need?

  • A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Class 1 Medical Certificate
  • A Frozen Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) – This becomes unfrozen when you complete 1500 hours and a special flight test, giving you a full ATPL.

White License Do You Need To Become An Airline Pilot UK?

Pilots in the early stages of their careers can expect to earn a good salary of around £45,000 a year.

This amount quickly increases, though, as you follow your pilot career progression.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. But if you want more information, check out our full Pilot Salary blog post, where you can see salaries for pilots worldwide!

Check out our youtube channel, and follow us on Instagram and tiktok!

Frequently Asked Questions

No two days are ever the same, so the job doesn't ever get boring.

Depending on the airline you fly for, you might have the luxury of getting paid a good salary to travel the world! 

Starting salaries are usually around the £45,000 mark. This increases quickly, though.

Depending on the airline, some pilots can become a captain in as little as five years and then make well over £100,000 a year.

Senior long-haul captains can make as much as £200,000 a year when including flight pay. 

It depends.

If you want to travel the world, then you might rather fly for an airline such as British Airways or Virgin Atlantic.

However, if you'd rather be home almost every night, then working for Ryanair or easyJet might be better! 

Between 18-24 months.

Done quickly on the Integrated scheme, you can complete your pilot training in 18 months.

There have been many pilots who have gone from 0 flight hours to flying passengers for an airline in less than 2 years.

Find a good flight school with good links with airlines. 

The goal is to become a pilot AND become qualified. Therefore, finding a flight school with a good history of placing cadets with airlines is essential. 

Pilots usually get a basic salary, which largely depends on how long they have worked for the airline and the aircraft they fly.

They will then be paid additional flight pay ontop of this for every hour that they spend flying. 

Yes, some pilots get paid per flight.

However, this is usually paid by flight hour instead of by flight. 

This is usually between £10-£100 an hour. 


A very rewarding career – the pilot career progression is completely different from many other fields of work.

However, you must pick the right flight school for you.

Check out our youtube channel, and follow us on Instagram and tiktok!

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