More than 450 new pilots are to be recruited by easyJet as the airline expands its network.

Opportunities will also be available for more than 140 of the budget airline’s current first officers to be promoted to captains.

Of the 450 positions, 400 will be cadet pilots and experienced co-pilots from other airlines and 50 direct entry captains.

The airline plans to double the intake of new women pilots to 12% over the next two years and will offer to underwrite the full training loan of six female new entrant pilots.

All new entrants will be offered positions across 28 European bases and provided with training and career development opportunities.

Many new cadets will be able to apply for all or part of their training loan – between £30,000 to £100,000 – underwritten by the airline.

Some experienced pilots joining from other airlines can also apply for the opportunity to have their loan underwritten.

EasyJet operates more than 245 aircraft on over 800 routes in 31 countries.

Head of flight operations, captain Barry Tyrrell, said: “We’re really pleased to have opened recruitment for more than 450 new easyJet pilot positions.

“We pride ourselves on having a team of the highest talent and we offer our pilots a clear career path with the opportunity to develop from first officer to captain quicker than at other airlines.”