A cohort of 400 trainee pilots will be among 1,000 international students allowed into New Zealand next year, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Education last week. This border class exception for international tertiary students is the third such, but the first to include professional trainees.
While the ministry has not gone into detail about why pilot trainees in particular are included in the border exception, the aviation training industry has taken a massive hit from border closures and the pandemic-forced closure of training institutions. Approximately half the aviation training staff across the country have lost their jobs since the pandemic started, and the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association predicted last year that as aviation training academies shut their doors, a global shortage of trained pilots and aviation instructors will result in the medium term.
Unsurprisingly, the aviation industry has welcomed the move, with Aviation New Zealand Chief Executive John Nicholson reported by the Stuff as saying it gives "certainty and predictability". He noted that the majority of international aviation students who come to New Zealand for training are from India, Vietnam, and China.
According to the timeline in the ministry's announcement, training providers will start shortlisting students next month, and they will be able to nominate their candidates for entry in December. The visa process will start in January and the students and trainees will start arriving around March 2022.