For the love of flying – When Tim found his wings with easyJet
Passionate about flying from a young age, Tim Riley was keen to follow in the footsteps of his father – a private pilot – and command the skies as a Captain for a major airline.
Despite some turbulence along the way, Tim realised his dream and eventually landed his dream job at easyJet, where he now flies the A320 across Europe.
We caught up with him about his aviation journey.
Thanks for agreeing to speak with us Tim! To start with, we’d love to know a bit more about your background – can you provide us with a bit of an overview of your career so far as a pilot?
Well I began my training in Manston Kent at the South East College of Air Training back in ’95, before moving onto my first job with Channel Express flying the Lockheed Electra. The Electra was, as far as I know the only turbo prop operating with voice activated auto throttle – aka a flight engineer! This was great experience. From Channel Express, Jet2 was born and I moved onto the Boeing 737-300 flying passenger charters and freight all over Europe. I spent 13 years with Channel Express/Jet2 before being made redundant in 2010 when I moved to another low cost airline based in London. Fast forward 7 years and I was ready to move on – I joined easyJet and commenced my type rating training as a direct entry captain on the A319/A320 fleet.
Have you always wanted to be a pilot?
Yes. My father was a pilot and I always knew I wanted to do the same. It was a real passion – something I genuinely enjoyed, until it became a chore. With my previous employer, I became worn down by the working conditions, feeling stifled and undervalued. With few perks and a very poor work/life balance, my passion turned sour, and at one point I even considered quitting aviation altogether. My application with easyJet was my first glimmer of hope – an opportunity to turn things around. And sure enough, once I joined them I rediscovered my love of flying completely. From my first go in the airbus with them during the selection process, I remembered what it was all about. Now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What made you decide to join easyJet and undertake the Airbus type-rating? Was it an easy decision?
I’d heard great things about easyJet from friends. They loved working for them and their contracts and salaries were fantastic. I was desperately in need of a change and so I decided to take the plunge and apply. It was daunting at the time, but the best decision I could have made!
And how did you find the recruitment process?
It was pleasant! I was very anxious to secure the role and had put a great deal of pressure on myself to perform, but I was reassured and supported from the outset. It was the first proper interview I’d had in many years, but it was handled brilliantly by the hiring team. In fact, it ended being a pretty fun day out.
Did you find it difficult funding your own training? What might have made it easier for you?
It was not at all easy. It was a large amount of money and I had to borrow it from my wife’s inheritance; it was the only way to do it really and I am still paying it back. The new type-rating sponsorship scheme recently introduced by easyJet would have made it much easier. Being able to spread the cost is a massive benefit that I’m sure will help many people who otherwise simply couldn’t afford it.
What inside knowledge would you pass on to any pilots who may be considering a move to easyJet?
When I started, I wasn’t sure what my take-home pay would be, and what sort of work/life balance to expect. I was happy to discover that easyJet offers a highly competitive basic salary that is not dependant on flight hours, meaning you have a stable income. Add to this the sector pay and you have real financial security. You know that whatever happens – if you’re taken ill for example – you’ll be taken care of. On top of this, easyJet’s base stability means you have minimal nightstops, so I usually always get to enjoy my evenings with my family. We also have fantastic pension contributions and a union to protect our work. I think they’d like to know about these things, as they’re great benefits compared with what some other airlines offer.
What has been the best part of working for easyJet?
Realising that I’ve made the right decision! I now enjoy working with great, well-trained professionals and have a secure future with real perks, opportunities for progression and even share options. My previous employee ticked the right boxes at the time because their shift roster offered some flexibility, but ultimately it came at the expense of everything else. I know now that you don’t have to settle, you can experience the same flexibility (which is offered at easyJet) but with a genuinely satisfying and fulfilling career.
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