EconomyNext – Mihin Lanka, Sri Lanka’s loss-making state-run budget carrier, has launched an international pilot training programme to meet growing needs of the region’s aviation industry.
"The new venture will enable Mihin Lanka to train inexperienced A320-type rated pilots from other international airlines, and provide them with on-the-job training delivered by Mihin Lanka’s most senior flight instructors," it said in a statement.
Nishantha Ranatunga, Chairman, Mihin Lanka said the new training programmes helps it to meet financial targets.
The budget carrier has been making losses since inception and there have been calls to shut it down as the island cannot afford to have two loss-making airlines, with the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, also heavily in the red.
“Today most of the airlines in the Indian subcontinent are struggling to meet the demand for well-trained first officers," said Capt. Themiya Abeywickrama, Chief Pilot Training and Standards, Mihin Lanka.
"Therefore, we decided to use our resources to train pilots regardless of their nationality without making changes to our own local pilot training programmes.
Most of the candidates who seek Mihin Lanka training have already been offered employment with airlines in their own countries.
"Due to the significant growth in the industry, combined with the shortage of qualified and experienced instructors, most of these airlines find it difficult to conduct in-house training for their first officers," Abeywickrama said.
Mihin Lanka decided it was feasible to train third party pilots in between its own training programmes as its instructors had free time.
The training will be conducted at the simulator training facility of the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines with which Mhin is affiliated.
Capt. Pujitha Jayakody, Director Flight Operations, Mihin Lanka said Mihin Lanka has trained up to 60 pilots in the last three years in various capacities. These include first officers, captains and instructors.
"Many of the pilots we have trained have been employed by a variety of leading international carriers including Etihad, Air Arabia in the Middle East, SriLankan Airlines, Singapore based Tiger Airways, VietJet Air and Vietnam Airlines."
At present, Mihin Lanka is contracted by a third party to train first officers for India’s Indigo Airlines.
"There is at present a high demand for our training services. However, we have only been able to accommodate a few airlines due to our limited resources,” said Jayakody.