EasyJet has set a target of ensuring that 20% of new entrant cadet pilots recruited in 2020 are female.

This would mean that the budget airline would be taking on around 50 female pilots a year, based on current recruitment plans.

The airline launched its Amy Johnson flying initiative to increase female pilot recruits two years ago.

The October 2015 initiative to double the number of female new entrant pilots to 12% over two years attracted more than 600 applicants.

This enabled the carrier to achieve its 12% target in the first year – recruiting 33 new entrant female pilots.

These women have either started to fly with easyJet or are assigned to courses due to start in the coming weeks.

The airline currently has 164 female pilots, including 62 captains – around 14% of the world’s total.

Only 3% of commercial airline pilots worldwide are female and only 450 of them have achieved the rank of captain, according to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots.

EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall unveiled an aircraft named after renowned female aviator Amy Johnson. The aircraft will fly across the network to generate awareness of the initiative.

McCall said: “We have been encouraged by the success of our Amy Johnson initiative since we launched it in October 2015 and the results so far suggest that the demand from women to become pilots is there.

“In light of us achieving our first target we have set a new target of 20% female new entrant cadet pilots by 2020.

“This means that we will be recruiting around 50 annually, which will really start to change the face of our industry.

“This is a long term strategy, which we hope will eventually lead to easyJet recruiting, retaining and developing many more female pilots.”

Speaking about the role of a pilot easyJet xaptain Marnie Munns said: “I am proud of the work easyJet is doing to promote this hugely rewarding career to girls and young women.

“Myself and many of my colleagues are highlighting the opportunities of pilot careers to female audiences such as school groups and other youth organisations, building on the work easyJet already does in mentoring young women.

“We also continue to work with easyJet’s pilot training providers to attract more women to apply for the easyJet cadet programme‎ and will offer another six places this year for women through the Amy Johnson initiative.”

Aviation minister Lord Ahmad said: “I am delighted that easyJet has made such great progress in recruiting female cadet pilots through the Amy Johnson initiative, and that they have even higher ambitions for the coming years.

“The government is committed to increasing the number of women employed in the transport sector and to ensuring that there are no glass ceilings for anyone when it comes to fulfilling their full potential in their careers.”