Ellie Varouhakis swapped her pilot’s licence for cabin crew wings to join British Airways and become one of 500 local residents to find work at London City Airport under the Take Off into Work ProgrammeEllie (22), a lifelong aviation fan, was a member of the Air Cadets where she learned to fly fixed wing aircraft before obtaining a gliding scholarship, flying at various RAF bases in the UK. But when the chance came up to work for British Airways as cabin crew at her local airport she jumped at it.

Take Off into Work was launched by London City Airport, Newham Council’s Workplace and the East London Business Alliance in 2009, providing work experience, trials and classroom-based training to Newham residents over the age of 16, with the opportunity to secure employment with London City Airport or one of its many onsite partners.

Ellie helped them reach the 500-employee milestone when she joined British Airways in June. After extensive training she got her wings in August and now flies on British Airways’ extensive European and domestic network from London City on modern Embraer jets.

This week she joined some of her local neighbours who work at the airport to celebrate the success of the programme. She said: “I was just so fortunate to be living in the right place at the right time.  I have always loved flying and travel so this job gives me both and the lifestyle I always wanted.”