Airlines face the prospect of a flight crew shortage due to growing demand for air travel and a generation of retiring pilots.

The warning comes from training company CTC Aviation, which forecasts that 235,000 more pilots will be needed worldwide over the next seven years.

That is to meet the growing demand for air travel and fill the gap caused by a generation of retiring pilots.

The company is embarking on its biggest ever recruitment drive in the UK, where the mix of English being the official language of the skies and youth unemployment of about 20% makes Britain a particularly attractive market for new trainees, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Managing director Martin Hunt said: “Globally there are currently around 22,000 commercial jets and this is forecast to grow to 40,000 by 2030.

“Similarly, there are just under 150,000 pilots but over the next seven years, the aviation industry needs to find a further 235,000 not only to meet the demands for more airline travel but also replace those who retire.”

It costs £89,800 for the two years of training required.

Hunt acknowledged that “£90,000 is a very significant investment but, because we place 99% of the cadets we train with airlines, the return on investment is also very high.”

The Southampton-based company is taking on 200 to 300 applicants a year out of around 8,000 applicants, with numeracy one of the key attributes required.

Hunt said: “The reputation of British pilots abroad is very good and the fact that they can get jobs anywhere in the world means that once you’ve qualified you have a very secure job.”

He admitted the initial funding can be difficult to find, though “most people borrow the money”, with Spanish bank BBVA carving out a niche in the market.

CTC has received 64,800 pilot training applications over the past 10 years, with 25,118 coming from Britain and 45,800 from continental Europe.