More than 235,000 extra pilots are needed over the next seven years to meet global demand for air travel, according to one of the world’s biggest aviation training companies.

UK-based CTC Aviation, which trains pilots for airlines including British Airways and easyJet, has highlighted a looming skills gap in the industry.

Strong demand for pilots has helped the company to increase sales 46pc to £41m ($66.3 million) in the year to June 30, and it believes there will be “huge potential” for further expansion before 2020 as airlines go on a major recruitment drive to meet demand for new and more frequent routes.

CTC, which has its headquarters in Southampton, trains around 2,000 pilots a year. About 60pc of the applications it receives are from outside the UK.

The group, which is owned by Inflexion private equity and management, has seen revenue from overseas increase more than sixfold over the past few years to £4m ($6.47 million) in 2012, up from £622,000 ($1 million) in 2010.

“The opportunities for further expansion are still very exciting,” said Martin Hunt, managing director at CTC Aviation Training.