A group of 29 Saudi Arabian students have graduated from Airways New Zealand's air traffic control training programme today, as the organisation further cements its reputation across the Middle East for providing high quality training services.
The students graduated at a ceremony at Airways' purpose-built training facility at Massey University in Palmerston North, marking the completion of a successful two-year scholarship sponsored by the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia (GACA) – and helping to fill a critical gap in the Middle East for the training of air traffic controllers.
The students arrived in August 2016 and spent their first year in New Zealand studying English with Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and Kaplan International College in Auckland. They then commenced a 12-month air traffic control (ATC) programme at the Airways Training facility in Palmerston North.
Airways Training CEO Sharon Cooke says the graduation of the Saudi Arabian students marks another milestone in the enduring partnership between Airways and GACA, who have been sending cohorts of ATC students to Airways in New Zealand for training since 2010.
"We're proud of our ongoing relationship with GACA," Ms Cooke says. "The success of the programme is testament to the high standard of training we provide – students are learning in a highly supportive environment with a low instructor to student ratio, and they've got access to very experienced instructors and world class simulation technologies," she says.
The latest cohort of students is the fourth group of GACA students to train with Airways in New Zealand, bringing the total number of graduates to 111 since 2010. Ms Cooke says that to date, all trainees who have successfully completed the programme have become licensed air traffic controllers after several months of on-the-job training.
The students will now return to Saudi Arabia to begin on-the-job training with Saudi Arabia Air Navigation Services. Hot on their heels, a fifth group of Saudi Arabian students has recently arrived in New Zealand to commence their English and air traffic control training.
Mohammed Otudi, one of the graduating students says his experience with Airways in New Zealand, training to become an air traffic controller, was invaluable.
"I'd like to say thank you to the Government of my country for giving us the chance to study with Airways in Zealand, and thank you to Airways for helping us to become air traffic controllers, ready to work back home in our country. It has been an amazing experience," Mohammed says.
The students train in a 'total immersion' environment during their studies with Airways Training. They train in state-of-the-art air traffic control simulators, providing a real world experience in a highly engaging learning environment.
The students also stay with local homestay families where possible, where they are immersed in the culture and lifestyle of New Zealand.
In addition to its relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Airways has worked in the Middle East region for more than 10 years, primarily delivering ATC ab-initio training and recruitment solutions within the United Arab Emirates and Oman.