The Government should approve up to 500 visas for cadet pilots in order to save New Zealand’s internationally recognised pilot training industry, Aviation NZ says.
Aviation NZ chief executive John Nicholson said the industry was being brought to its knees by New Zealand’s closed borders.
Approving up to 500 visas in 2021 for high value pilot training would save the industry, ensure airlines had a depth of pilots to recruit, and guarantee the long term viability of the industry, he said.
“New Zealand’s globally competitive pilot training industry is being brought to its knees as government continues to keep the border closed to high value pilot cadets,” Nicholson said.
Pilot cadets were high value students, with the average cadet paying about $80,000 per year in tuition fees, he said.
In 2020, the industry earned $51 million in tuition fees from international students, he said.
It generated $226m in economic activity, mostly in regional New Zealand, employed 380 staff and had an asset value of nearly $100m, he said.
With the borders closed trainers were running out of students. In 2020 270 cadets left New Zealand as fully trained pilots and another 50 had left so far in 2021, he said.
“This is happening when several international airlines are desperate to get more cadets trained in New Zealand so that they can get them into their fleets in 2023.”
New Zealand-trained cadets were in demand because training companies here produced well-rounded pilots with “exceptionally good” flying skills, he said.
New Zealand had government agreements in place with India and Vietnam to encourage pilot training in New Zealand, and several trainers had training agreements with airlines, he said.
A recent survey of the industry found almost 500 pilot cadets, mostly from India and Vietnam, but also Indonesia, China and the South Pacific, had committed to coming to New Zealand, he said.
“Many have been wanting to get here since March last year. They will not wait much longer.”
24/02/21 John Anthony/Stuff