The Hon. Ian MacDonald - Regional Express to establish pilot training in Wagga Wagga
Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Minister for State Development Ian Macdonald today welcomed the decision of Regional Express to establish a pilot training academy in Wagga Wagga bringing much needed jobs to the city.

“This is great news for the Wagga region because it brings more than 70 highly paid jobs to the city,” Mr Macdonald said.

“The project will also bring over $25 million in investment to the area over five years, plus work for subcontractors and suppliers. The academy will train new pilots for Regional Express and other airlines, including airlines in the growing Asia Pacific market and help to reduce the global shortage of pilots.

“Regional Express is Australia’s largest independent regional airline and the only airline servicing some routes.”

Minister Macdonald said the training academy will contribute to a consistent supply of highly trained airline pilots regardless of changes in the market and the business cycle.

“Wagga Wagga is the ideal location for the academy − it is located midway between Sydney and Melbourne, and with 60,000 residents the city has the facilities and services that make it one of the most attractive cities in inland Australia,” he said.

“Plus Wagga Wagga already has a strong education and training presence with Charles Sturt University, Kapooka Army Recruit Training Base and the Riverina Institute of TAFE providing training for RAAF aircraft maintenance engineers.

“Rex’s academy will enhance Wagga Wagga’s training profile - Rex has a proud history in Wagga Wagga, with the company currently employing 100 local people.

Managing Director of Regional Express Jim Davis thanked the NSW Government for its ongoing support through the NSW Department of State and Regional Development.

“Without the active support of the NSW Government, we would not have moved our flying school from Mangalore in Victoria,” Mr Davis said.

“The Government has made it possible for Rex to construct a brand new state-of-the-art flying academy in Wagga Wagga with the ability to produce more than 200 professional pilots per year.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to put on record our profound gratitude to the State Government for their invaluable and significant assistance when Rex first emerged from the Ansett collapse in 2002.

“This was instrumental in ensuring that Rex survived the two initial difficult years. This investment in NSW is our small way of paying back the support we received.”