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Aviation NZ Welcomes Return Of International Pilot Cadets (released 22 Oct 2021)

“Today’s announcement through the Ministry of Education that foreign pilot cadets can return to New Zealand next year is welcome news” said Aviation NZ Chief Executive, John Nicholson.

The industry has been marking time and losing both capability and capacity since borders were closed in March 2020.

At last, pilot trainers have some certainty and can plan for the return of international students.

We will be working closely with the Government to ensure the systems and processes put in place to get these students safely into New Zealand are as robust and efficient as possible.

Pilot training is high value international education for New Zealand. The average student will pay around $80,000 pa for tuition fees. The approvals announced today should generate about $32m in tuition fee income and result in about $140m additional economic activity, mostly in regional New Zealand.

While much has been made publicly of the challenges facing global airlines, many airlines have taken advantage of the impact of COVID-19 to reduce their dependence on foreign pilots, train more locals, take delivery of new and more efficient aircraft, and lower their cost structures. Airlines are flying again.

Several of these airlines want to train cadets in New Zealand. This reflects their good experiences of pilots trained here, the quality of training provided, the relationships developed over time with trainers and the integrity of the regulatory system managed by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The confidence these airlines show in New Zealand training is also demonstrated by the number of agreements they have entered into to train cadets in New Zealand.

Now our globally competitive training industry can start delivering on these agreements’ concluded Nicholson


Talking Points

In 2020,

In 2020, the pilot training industry earned around $51m in tuition fee income from foreign students, which generated economic activity exceeding $226m, mostly in regional New Zealand. The industry employed over 380 staff including 225 flight instructors.

Overseas airlines want cadets trained in New Zealand because our companies train very well, they produce well rounded pilots with exceptionally good flying skills, and we provide a great and safe training environment. These companies also recognise that New Zealand has done well in the fight against COVID-19.

Government to Government agreements in place with India and Vietnam encourage pilot training in New Zealand. There are also strong relationships in place between the Civil Aviation Authority and regulators in those and other countries. On the back of these Government relationships, several trainers have been able to negotiate business to business training agreements with airlines.

Key facts about Aviation NZ

Aviation NZ was established in 1950 to encourage the safe growth of the aviation industry in New Zealand. In more recent years, it has also become involved in helping the international development of its members.

  • Members include agricultural companies, air operators (fixed wing and rotary), aircraft designers and manufacturers, maintenance repair and overhaul, the UAV industry, airports, aviation trainers, tertiary institutions, emergency and medical services companies, helicopter companies, and parts manufacturers.

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