11 Sep 2015

Whanganui to establish flight school

9:10 pm on 11 September 2015

Whanganui is to establish a commercial pilot training academy with the aim of attracting national and international students to the district.

It was hoped the new school called The Commercial Pilot Academy would be up and running at Whanganui Airport in about a year.

It was hoped the new school called The Commercial Pilot Academy would be up and running at Whanganui Airport in about a year. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Wanganui District Council Holdings chair Matthew Doyle said it had bought Flight Training Manawatu for $800,000 and planned to relocate it from Feilding Aerodrome to Whanganui Airport.

The deal includes four planes, flight simulators and associated equipment.

Mr Doyle said the purchase was strategic and would help to maximise the use of existing airport assets.

"We have considered other flight training possibilities in the past but they have involved excessive commercial risk.

"However, Flight Training Manawatu is a profitable business with full certification and provides quality tuition and customer service, with a well-earned reputation for excellent pilot training."

The current flight school offers three strands of the two-year NZ Diploma of Aviation programme, general aviation, instructor and airline preparation.

At the end of August it had 42 students and 13 staff, including 11 instructors. It has ties with two agents in India where the majority of international students come from.

A new chief executive was in the process of being appointed, Mr Doyle said.

An aerial view of Whanganui airport.

An aerial view of Whanganui Airport. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Mr Doyle said it was hoped the new school, called the Commercial Pilot Academy, would be up and running at Whanganui Airport in about a year.

"The school will remain at the Feilding Aerodrome for at least 12 months while we establish new hangars and educational facilities at Whanganui Airport and look at accommodation options for the students."

Whanganui Mayor Annette Main said the council supported buying the business.

"Our airport currently operates at a loss and some of this loss is funded by rates. The flight academy will provide an opportunity to support the airport and its future viability."

Ms Main said the Crown, which is joint owner of the airport, was aware of the deal but did not contribute financially.

She said the staff and students at the flight school would be an asset to the Whanganui community.

"It's exciting that our district will be home to students from throughout New Zealand and overseas."

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