REGIONAL Express is bringing in more pilots to Ballarat to train, but don't expect any Ballarat to Merimbula direct services anytime soon.
The Wagga Wagga-based airline, Australia's largest regional carrier, has set up base at the Ballarat Aerodrome after securing a deal with ST Engineering, acquiring its subsidiary Aviation Training Academy Australia which owns ST Aerospace Academy (Australia).
Ballarat's STAA(A) is a pilot academy founded over a decade ago to provide airline cadet pilot training for global carriers.
It currently has over 140 cadets training for airlines including Air China, Xiamen Airlines, Hainan Airlines and OK Airlines, as well as Scoot for the flight training component of its multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) program.
VIDEO: Executive Chairman of Regional Express' Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA) Chris Hine talks about the new training base in Ballarat
Executive Chairman of Regional Express' Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA) Chris Hine said Chinese authorities had been sending trainee pilots to Ballarat due to the excellence of the training offered, which is why Rex was keen to become involved.
"Airlines worldwide are looking for alternatives to training pilots in the United States for various reasons and Australia is at the top of the list as an alternative," Mr Hine said.
Mr Hine said Australia's weather, high standards of training and English language provided significant opportunities for pilots around the world to learn their craft in this country.
He said Regional Express would combine its expertise with STAA(A) to make it one of the largest airline training providers in Australia.
"We will be contributing to Australian exports as the vast majority of cadets will be from overseas, as well as creating jobs in regional cities," Mr Hine said.
But Mr Hine hosed down any thoughts of possibly seeing Regional Express flights operate out of Ballarat in the foreseeable future, saying this move was a purely training expansion.
He said the airline would look to set up other training bases across the country.
"We will look at opening further satellite bases in Australia to respond to the insatiable worldwide demand for professional pilots that are trained to rigorous airline standards," he said.
"We have already identified one location and will consider more as we expand."
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