• STAA operates a training academy at Ballarat. (STAA)
    STAA operates a training academy at Ballarat. (STAA)

Australian regional carrier Regional Express (Rex) has bought ST Aerospace Academy Australia (STAA) at Ballarat, the airline announced this morning.

Singapore-based ST Engineering founded the academy at Ballarat more than 10 years ago to train students largely for the Chinese Airlines and today has 140 students training for airlines such as Air China, Xiamen and Hainan.

Chris Hine, Executive Chairman of the Rex-owned Australian Airline Pilot Academy (APAA) in Wagga Wagga said that STAA stood to benefit from the airline's experience in training students to airline standards.

“With this acquisition the Rex Group, which operates the biggest regional airline network in Australia, will draw on its expertise and experience at AAPA in training pilots to rigorous airline standards to help STAA(A) stand out from all the other pilot academies that train commercial pilots to general aviation standards," he said.

“Airlines worldwide are looking for alternatives to training pilots in the United States for various reasons and Australia is at the top of the list as an alternative.”

“We intend to leverage on our unique and unparalleled expertise to further expand our pilot training capabilities. We will look at opening further satellite bases in Australia to respond to the insatiable worldwide demand for professional pilots that are trained to rigorous airline standards. We have already identified one location and will consider more as we expand.”

Rex intends to continue sourcing training candidates from overseas, which it says will earn export dollars for Australia and create jobs in regional areas.

According to Rex, the combination of STAA and AAPA gives the airline the largest pilot training of any airline in the world.

Last week, Rex was granted permission to import pilots and instructors from overseas to fill gaps in demand in Australia.

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