By Leithen Francis
Philippine conglomerate Citadel Holdings later this year plans to establish a commercial pilot training school at Clark airport outside Manila.
Citadel, which already has other aviation businesses, has an undisclosed Japanese investor for the new venture which will be established in Clark later this year in partnership with a US university, says Citadel vice chairman Jovino Lorenzo.
The new flying school's name will leverage off the US university's brand, says Lorenzo, adding that it has short-listed the University of North Dakota and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
These two already have a reputation in the field of pilot training.
Lorenzo says the new school aims to capitalise on the shortage of pilots in Asia, particularly in China and India, and having the backing of a US university is important to demonstrate it will be of an international standard.
Citadel decided to establish the business because there is market demand and a flying school complements its other aviation businesses, says Lorenzo.
These include ground handling, catering and aircraft maintenance firm Miascor.
Citadel is also a general sales agent in the Philippines for 12 overseas airlines, says Lorenzo.
Citadel chose Clark because it is near Manila, has plenty of space, a good runway and businesses that set up there receive government tax incentives, he says.
Citadel already has a flight catering business at Clark so this catering firm will provide the students' meals, he adds.
The school plans to get 24 propellor aircraft for ab initio training as well as multipurpose simulators and later look to add two to three jets, says Lorenzo.
But it will refrain from adding simulators for type-rating, he says.
Graduates will qualify for a pilot's licence and a commercial pilot's licence, says Lorenzo, adding that it is considering offering multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) courses.