Sunday, January 3, 2016

Vienamese airline training deal raises hopes of more Asian commercial air education

A deal with Vietnam Airlines could help a Christchurch flight school to train more students from Asia.

International Aviation Academy of New Zealand has won approval to train Vietnam's commercial airline pilots.

Academy chief executive Peter Randle said Vietnam was like much of Asia in that its airspace was controlled by the military. There was no private air-training in Vietnam and no other commercial career options like aerial top-dressing, taking tourists for joy-rides or "banner-flying along the beach." Asian students mostly trained in the United States, or increasingly in Australia or New Zealand.

Randle said International Aviation expected to take about 30 Vietnamese pilots a year, training them for up to 18 months. About three months of their stay in New Zealand would be for English lessons, which they would need to sit up to 15 exams and do up to 1400 hours of flight training.

Randle said it would cost each student $90,000-$100,000 to come to New Zealand, plus $20,000 in accommodation, transport and other extras. 

The academy, based at Christchurch airport, was currently training up to 100 foreign and domestic students a year but could handle up to 130.

Vietnam Airlines and a training school in Vietnam that it half-owned would provide about five groups of students a year. 

It would be cheaper for International Aviation to take students through an airline partner than to hire recruiters to chase 60 to 80 individual overseas students, Randle said.

Training 30 foreign students a year would be big by New Zealand standards, he said.

Vietnam needed to train about 200 students a year for the next five years, although only some of them would ever come to New Zealand. Training was still cheaper in the United States.

International Aviation, which started in the mid 1990s, was one of only two in New Zealand that was "active" in targeting international training. It received some government funding to train New Zealand citizens but overseas students had to pay their own way.

The school also had approval from airway authorities in India and Sri Lanka to train pilots but had yet to agree on training with airlines in those countries.

The academy sealed its Vietnam deal in November with a sign-off by tertiary education minister Steven Joyce, who joined Prime Minister John Key on an education sector delegation to the country.

Randle said Air New Zealand approving it as an international flight trainer three years ago helped the academy prove its credentials in Vietnam.

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