Etihad Airways acquires flight academy from Mubadala

Horizon International Flight Academy currently has 210 trainees enrolled in its programmes. The academy has been training Etihad cadet pilots for the past seven years.
Etihad Airways aims to recruit both Emirati pilots and from around the world including Australia, South Africa and the US. Paulo Vecina / The National
Etihad Airways aims to recruit both Emirati pilots and from around the world including Australia, South Africa and the US. Paulo Vecina / The National

Etihad Airways has acquired the fixed-wing operation of Horizon International Flight Academy owned by Mubadala Development, with the carrier keen to train new pilots to meet escalating demand in the region.

“The establishment of the Etihad Flight College is a natural part of our strategy to produce the best pilots to support our rapidly expanding fleet,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and chief executive. “It also helps underpin the growth and development of the aviation sector in Abu Dhabi,”

Mubadala will retain the rotary wing operation.

Based in Al Ain, Horizon provides helicopter rotary wing training and airplane fixed wing training. The academy offers qualification for the private pilot’s licence, commercial pilot’s licence and airline transport pilot licence, according to the statement.

As it stands, Horizon currently has 210 trainees enrolled in its programmes. The academy has been training Etihad cadet pilots for the past seven years.

The rapid expansion of Gulf carriers, such as Etihad, is matched by a high demand for pilots. In November, Etihad ordered 199 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus. This year it expects 20 aircraft deliveries, which will include Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A380s.

Currently, Etihad has about 1,600 pilots. The carrier aims to recruit both Emirati pilots and from around the world including Australia, South Africa and the US.

“The training facility will enhance the career opportunities in aviation, especially for UAE nationals,” said Mr Hogan.

Etihad did not disclose the value of the deal.

“Airlines have looked at training cost centres to see if they can expand their business scope to neutralise the cost or even make it a profit centre,” said Will Horton, a senior analyst at the Sydney-based Centre for Aviation (Capa).

“Depending on how much Etihad grows the college, it could train pilots for Etihad and its partners or even more airlines,” he added.

Horizon will be the second aviation sector asset of Mubadala’s that Etihad has acquired this month. On May 8, it bought the maintenance unit Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (Adat).

“This is a sharp and positive move for Etihad and equally for Mubadala who dispense with an asset that in large part was not a core business element for them,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at StrategicAero Research.

“One only has to look at neighbouring Emirates’ flight academy to see how much that has grown in the last decade – Etihad is protecting its skilled labour so that it doesn’t have to pay over-inflated open market costs for pilots that would otherwise seek employment elsewhere.”

selgazzar@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights

Published: May 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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