Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Regional Express (Rex), in partnership with the City of Wagga Wagga, has today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary ‘Australian Airline Pilot Academy’ (AAPA) will be relocated to Wagga Wagga from its current location in Mangalore, Victoria starting 1 April 2009.

In preparation for the move, Rex has purchased a modern hangar at Wagga Wagga airport as well as 2.4 hectares of land that borders the Wagga Wagga airport for a total of $1.55M.

Jim Davis, Rex’s Managing Director, said that plans were being drawn up to develop a state-of-the-art Training Centre on the land as well as accommodation, administration and recreational facilities to house the trainee pilots and he expected the first stage of the development to be ready by the end of 2009.

Mr Davis, who is also the Chairman of AAPA, gave further details about the expansion plans for AAPA, “AAPA’s ambition is to be the premier pilot academy in Asia Pacific with a projected throughput of more than 200 pilots a year for both Australian and international airlines.”

“This will be an exciting time for Wagga Wagga as not only will there be the creation of over 70 high quality jobs, the Academy will also put Wagga Wagga squarely on the world map for pilot training.”

“I would like to pay tribute to the Wagga Wagga City Council staff, led by Mayor Kerry Pascoe and General Manager Lyn Russell, who have been instrumental in making this happen. They have been supportive and enthusiastic throughout the discussions and the assistance given by Council made a compelling case for the Rex board to decide in favour of Wagga Wagga.”

Wagga Wagga City Council Mayor, Cr. Kerry Pascoe said, “I foreshadowed last year that we would see Rex continuing to grow their diverse aviation activities in Wagga Wagga and this will enhance Wagga Wagga’s own aspiration to be a regional aviation hub as well as have far reaching benefits to the community at large.”

“Rex employs more than 100 staff in Wagga Wagga which is the home of Rex’s major engineering base where the Rex fleet of more than 40 Saab 340 aircraft are maintained. The significant existing Rex infrastructure and resources in Wagga Wagga made the city a logical choice to establish AAPA for the longer term.”

AAPA was established by Rex in November 2007 to combat the severe pilot shortage that swept through the airline industry during 2007/08. It incorporates a unique Rex Pilot Cadetship scheme, that to date has seen 45 Rex pilot cadets trained at the academy with 16 cadets having graduated and 4 of them having passed their SAAB endorsement training and now flying as a First Officer. It is an intensive live-in training program that enables pilot students to graduate with a Commercial Pilots Licence, a Multi Engine Rating and Command Instrument rating within 32 weeks. AAPA operates with brand new Piper Warrior III aircraft with state of the art “glass” cockpits for the first training course, as well as twin engine Piper Seminole for multi-engine and instrument training. Rex has invested approximately $6M to date into the Pilot Academy and the Rex Pilot Cadetship scheme.

Regional Express (Rex) is Australia’s largest independent regional airline operating a fleet of 40 Saab 340 aircraft on some 1,300 weekly flights to 24 destinations from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The Rex Group comprises Regional Express, air freight and charter operator Pel-Air Aviation and Dubbo based charter airline Air Link, as well as the pilot academy Australian Airline Pilot Academy.