Student pilot pleaWhanganui needs visas to be granted for students

Published date28 April 2021
Publication titleWhanganui Chronicle
The visas could be a lifesaver for the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy (NZICPA) in Whanganui, and the country’s 11 other flight schools.

They would be for high-value pilot trainees, who spend around $80,000 a year on their tuition, Aviation New Zealand chief executive John Nicholson said.

The NZICPA, owned by Whanganui District Council Holdings, needs a continued supply of international students. After border restrictions slowed its growth, it had to make three staff redundant in December last year.

It currently had about 80 students, board chairman David Rae said.

The number was projected to grow to around 200 after signing a contract with Indian airline IndiGo. The airline was to send 25 students for training every three months, with each staying 15 months and a total of 125 students here at any time.

As things stand, 54 will finish their studies at the end of July. Of those, 24 are from IndiGo and another 28 are from India.

However, Covid-19 has thrown a spanner in the works.

Since Covid-19 closed New Zealand’s border, the NZICPA has provided online learning to IndiGo cadets unable to leave India. About 80 have completed it and want to come to New Zealand for air training.

The timing could not be worse. Covid-19 has been so rife in India that, from April 29, it is one of four countries from which only New Zealand citizens and their immediate family members are allowed into New Zealand.

The Aviation New Zealand case has been submitted to Government officials, who will prepare a paper for Government ministers, Nicholson said. A meeting with Transport Minister Michael Wood is planned for mid-May.

The proposal was timely, because hundreds of managed...

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