A Kuwaiti finance and investment company Al Aqeelah LFI group plans to establish an aviation training academy in Malaysia that will cater to commercial airlines and military air forces in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Aqeeq Aviation Holding president and CEO, Abdullah Bastaki, says the aim is to open the World Aviation Academy in 18 months from now.
It has short-listed three sites in Malaysia -Kuantan, Malacca and Johor Bahru - with Johor Bahru's Senai airport the front-runner because it was the most receptive to the idea, says Bastaki, who is an equity partner in Aqeeq Aviation Holding along with Al-Aqeelah Group, a Kuwaiti investment and finance house.
Bastaki says Malaysia's government requested to have a majority stake in the Malaysian academy but Aqeeq Aviation decided to cap the Malaysian government agencies' stake at 30%.
The academy will train commercial and military pilots for airlines and air forces across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, says Bastaki.
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Kuwait Towers, a famous landmark in Kuwait City
Courses will include commercial pilot license (CPL) and multi-crew pilot license (MPL) courses as well as type-rating courses, he adds.
Attached to the flying academy will be a maintenance, repair and overhaul company that will maintain commercial and military aircraft as well as train maintenance engineers, he says.
Bastaki also says the World Aviation Academy will train air traffic controllers and airline cabin crew although the cabin crew training will be conducted in a different location, possibly another country.
In terms of commercial and military pilots, the plan is to train about 1,000 per annum, he says.
Aqeeq Aviation Holding decided to establish the World Aviation Academy in Malaysia rather then a Middle East country because there is more demand in Asia-Pacific and because Malaysia is a Muslim country, the academy can still tap the Middle East market, he says.
The company did look at establishing the academy in the Middle East but decided against it because there are already many players trying to establish training academies in the Middle East and as a consequence competition there is an issue, says Bastaki.
Middle East carriers need to train pilots in the Middle East or Asia because since the September 2001 US terrorist attacks, it is harder for Middle Eastern people to get visas to go to the USA and Europe, he adds.