In the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2016, airline pilots were the 4th highest paid profession in the UK, earning an average of £86,915 before tax. The figures, reported by the Guardian, show that only marketing directors, chief executives, and brokers earn more on average. This figure is down 0.6% on the previous year due to the rise of budget airlines. Below is a chart of the top 10.
Average pay before tax chart

Figures from ONS data as reported by the Guardian

Commercial airlines will have both a captain and a first officer in the cockpit during the flight. Both are fully qualified pilots and will help to fly the plane but the captain has the overall responsibility for the safety of the crew and their passengers. There may be additional pilots for long haul flights so the work can be shared over long periods. Salaries therefore vary between the roles as captains generally have more experience and take on more responsibility. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to earn depending on whether you fly long haul or short haul flights. We’ve included some examples of airlines for each.  

Long Haul Pilot

Captain salary: £80,000 – £160,000 First Officer salary: £60,000 – £120,000 Typically, the aircraft used in long haul flight are Boeing 747, 767, 777, 787, and Airbus A330, A340, A380. Top long haul employers include:

Short Haul Pilot

Captain salary: £70,000 – £130,000 First Officer salary: £40,000 – £70,000 Typically, the aircraft used in short haul flights include the Boeing 737, Airbus A320, and Embraer 190 Top short haul employers include:   Salaries will vary between employers and these figures are intended as a guide. Most airlines also have some attractive benefits in place. On top of the large salary, here are some of the things that pilots might receive from their employers:
  • Rising salary each year with the same company
  • Pension scheme
  • Discounted air travel. Sometimes you are able to share this benefit with friends and family
  Interested in becoming a pilot? Read our pilot guide to find out more. It’s also worth noting that air traffic controllers were also among the top ten occupations. This could be an alternative career for you if you are interested in the aviation industry but don’t fancy life as a pilot. Take a look at the pilot roles on offer on Aviation Job Search for further information.

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