Image: British Airways, International Airlines Group

British Airways' maternity pay policy has been described as a "scandal" by industry experts, despite its attempt to attract more female pilots.

For its 100th year, the airline has made a public commitment to recruit more female pilots, adding to the 300 it has. However, it has come under fire from the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) after it emerged that BA offers its female staff just six weeks' maternity pay. It means female pilots would have to accept a 90% reduction in salary in order during their maternity leave.

Balpa said it was a "scandal" and a huge barrier to more women becoming pilots.

Balpa’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “Many of the hardships associated with an 80-90% reduction in pay are obvious. Increasingly, women pilots are also servicing debt from the costs of higher education and flight training, along with saving for the costs of buying a first house.

“For some it means delaying having children, taking shorter maternity leave or giving up on having a family altogether.”

Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Commons transport select committee, said: “BA is better than the average for female pilot recruitment, but a long way from where it should be.

“If they are serious about change and improving that balance they have do better – not just professional development but supporting women during their career, if they want to combine that with being a mother.”