First helicopter training facility in the region
Plans underway to attract foreign students
By Charumini de Silva
Fairway Aviation Academy — a fully-owned subsidiary of Fairway Holdings Group – will launch a fully-fledged air travel school in Ratmalana today.
The air travel school carries an investment of over Rs. 300 million and is the only helicopter training school in the region. The school will train pilots from ab-initio stage to air transport pilot level, Fairway Holdings Chairman/Managing Director Hemaka de Alwis told the Daily FT.
Fairway Aviation Academy is expected to commence in July with a batch of 13 students.
“In total, we will have over eight aircraft for training, and two helicopters, making it the highest number of aircraft that any aviation school have in Sri Lanka. Already, we have got four aircraft and aircraft hangars apart from engineering equipment, office buildings, classroom equipment and facilities and human resources,” he added.
“We will not just produce pilots; we hope to provide professional pilots to meet the industry demand,” de Alwis noted.
Explaining the advantage of owning a number of aircraft, Fairway Holdings Chief Marketing Officer Taffy Alahakoon said that having different types of aircraft would enable students to experience multiple types of aircraft before they become pilots, which is required.
The company also intends to extend its aircraft facilities to other pilot training schools that does not have the privilege of having multiple aircraft.
With Sri Lanka opening up its threshold for air travel degrees in the region, the company is optimistic of attracting many foreign students. “We are looking to attract a lot of foreign students in the future to Sri Lanka. Plans are underway to boost that market by promoting our services overseas for foreign students to come to Sri Lanka.”
Many Sri Lankan students go to countries like the UK, US, Malaysia and Singapore to pursue their air travel degrees and pilot training program, which are highly expensive. With the launch of Fairway Aviation Academy air travel degree program, obtaining academic qualifications in piloting will become much affordable for students.
It will also help reduce the foreign exchange drain to other countries and attract foreign students to Sri Lanka. The students will be able to complete their degree program in the given period of time as the country’s weather is not an obstacle for pilot training like in other countries.
Outlining future expansion plans, de Alwis said that Koggala is where they hoped to be in the medium term, because Ratmalana was becoming an increasingly busy commercial airport. The company has already bought a two acre land in Koggala next to the airport.
Commenting on the trainers and lecturers, he said: “We have a great panel of instructors in the country based on their qualifications and experience. On completion of our training, all students will be eligible to find employment with airlines.”
He said there was a continuous demand for pilots in the world and many experienced pilots were closer to retiring age. As a result, young pilots must be available to take over their places. There is a tremendous boost for aviation in Sri Lanka and in the Asian region as new airlines and new aircraft are being purchased.