Cebu Pacific invests $25 million for training of future pilots

In Photo: This October 24 photo shows (from left) Cebu Air Inc. (CEB) Vice President for Flight Operations Sam Avila II , CEB President and CEO Lance Y. Gokongwei, Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) Pty. Ltd. Director Steven Young and FTA CEO Johan Pienaar during the launch of a cadet-pilot training program in Pasay City. The program aims to address the expansion requirements of CEB’s Cebu Pacific Airline over the next five years.

GOKONGWEI-LED Cebu Pacific is investing over $25 million (about P1.3 billion) for the 52-week overseas aviation training of 16 cadets at Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) campus in Australia as part of the company’s recruitment initiative aimed at addressing the airline’s refleeting requirements over the next five years.

“The reason we have this program is to get more pilots  to support our expansion,” Capt. Samuel Avila II told the BusinessMirror during the send-off of the first batch of Cebu Pacific Cadet Pilot Program held last week at its main office in Pasay City.

Without citing exact figures on the number of aircraft to be added to their current 62 planes, he said they initially form part of the initiative’s target of hiring 240 cadets over a five-year period to join their roster of around 700 pilots at present.

He added the program aims to give every aeronautics graduate an equal chance to work in their company since the cost of getting a commercial pilot license is very expensive—nearly P3 million.

“Not everyone has the financial capabilities, and if you limit yourself to that demographic, it’s very small. But if you want to attract talents from different walks of life—as you can see a lot of our candidates are scholars [and] most of them are honor students—it levels the playing field,” added Avila, who is also one of the trainers of the qualifiers.

“Having these capable, motivated young individuals coming to our system, they are the future for us. In the future, they will become captains, instructors, first officers and others.”

Out of the more than 12,500 plus applicants, the candidates who passed the tests required to become flight commanders of the airline company are Dexie Jay Aljas, from Banga, South Cotabato; Janine Alyssa Marie Bautista, Cainta, Rizal; Aaron Jhun Bernabe, Santiago City, Isabela; James Kevin Chua, Santa Cruz, Manila; Paulo Martin Concepcion, Santa Rosa, Laguna; Martha May de Leon, Santa Rosa, Laguna; Darryl Dave Ditucalan, Iligan City; Geronimo Miguel Mantes, Fairview, Quezon City; Lorenzo Miguel Montinola, Malate, Manila; Rydale Pintor, Cebu City; Ardeen Bernabe Reguyal, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro; Kayrwin Kirch Remolona, Mabalacat, Pampanga; Jose Angelo Santos, Cainta, Rizal; twin brothers Ian John and Ivan Kevin Satentes, Noveleta, Cavite; and Juan Carlo Wage, Bamban, Tarlac.

“Ever since I was a child it has always been my lifelong dream to become a pilot but my family is not financially capable of supporting my dreams,” said Ian John Satenes, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Aircraft Maintenance Technology at PATTS College of Aeronautics.

For Wage, who finished Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics at the University of the Philippines Diliman, this opportunity may improve the lives of his family, especially his parents who worked both as caretakers and housecleaners in Pampanga.

“I joined the program because I knew that it would change my life. Aside from being able to travel and learn and experience new things, I want to pay my mom and dad back for their hard work and give them a good life, as well,” he said.

Thankful of Cebu Pacific, de Leon, one of the two female candidates who made it to the final cut, believes the program will enable financially challenged Filipinos to reach their dreams of becoming pilots.

“I wanted to be a pilot since I was in grade school. After graduating college and getting my first job, I did not think that I would be able to pursue my dream immediately because my salary was not enough to put me to flying school. Luckily, Cebu Pacific created a program for aspiring pilots,” she said.

Thirteen months after their training, the cadet pilots will return to the Philippines to finish type-rating and licensing requirements to become commercial pilots. Cebu Pacific will shoulder all the cost.

Once they complete the program, the 16 candidates will become first officers and join the corps of aviators at the airline firm, flying domestic and international destinations. They will then reimburse the cost of the program via salary deduction over a maximum of 10 years at zero interest.

The Cebu Pacific Cadet Pilot Program is open only to Filipino citizens who are college graduates, proficient in English and hold passports valid for at least two years before the commencement of the program. The selection begins with an online screening, followed by an on-site screening for core skills and pilot aptitude tests, among other examinations, where a fee of AU$425 or P17,000 will be charged.

Cebu Pacific and FTA will jointly select the final list of candidates. Candidates for the second batch are currently being screened. Application for the third batch is set to open by mid-May 2018.

Cebu Air Inc. is the largest carrier in the Philippine air transportation industry, offering its low-cost services to more destinations and routes with higher flight frequency within the Philippines than any other airline. Currently, it offers flights to 37 domestic and 26 international destinations, operating an extensive network across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and the United States.

Image Credits: Nonie Reyes

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Roderick L. Abad graduated from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, with a degree course in Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication. He has 12 years of journalism experience, starting as a Special Features Writer in a major daily newspaper. In 2006, he moved to the BusinessMirror in the same capacity and, eventually, became a beat reporter. To his credit, he was a finalist in the 2011 Holcim Journalism Awards for Sustainable Construction and the 2013 Lasallian Scholarum Awards. He remains affiliated with the BusinessMirror as a contributor.