Cebu is an emerging aviation education hub

PARTNERSHIP. Cebu Pacific, represented by Capt. Samuel Avila II, vice president for Flight Operations (left), signed a memorandum of agreement with Cebu-based Airworks Aviation, represented by president Vincent Charles Ong (right), on June 6, 2024, to formalize the partnership on the Cadet Pilot Program.
PARTNERSHIP. Cebu Pacific, represented by Capt. Samuel Avila II, vice president for Flight Operations (left), signed a memorandum of agreement with Cebu-based Airworks Aviation, represented by president Vincent Charles Ong (right), on June 6, 2024, to formalize the partnership on the Cadet Pilot Program.CEB

From being popularly known as a hub for English as a Second Language (ESL), Cebu is now gaining popularity as an aviation education hub.

Speaking at the Cebu Tourism Forum on Wednesday, July 3, 2024, Gelena Asia-Dimpas, the chief tourism operations officer of the Department of Tourism 7, said Cebu has expanded its education tourism offerings.

While ESL programs have traditionally attracted foreign students, Dimpas noted that Cebu is now drawing international learners for a variety of other fields, including aviation, culinary arts, voluntourism, and maritime studies.

In an interview, Vincent Charles Ong, president of Airworks Aviation, said that the growth of ESL in Cebu has had spillover effects on the aviation industry.

He believes that the main reason foreign students choose Cebu for aviation studies is because of its ESL programs, in addition to factors like the affordable cost of living and the warm hospitality of Cebuanos.

“You can’t be a pilot anywhere in the world if you can’t speak English. So that connects us being the ESL capital of the world,” said Ong.

Cadet Pilot Program

Ong’s flight training school Airworks Aviation located in Lapu-Lapu City and Cebu Pacific recently inked a deal to relaunch the Cadet Pilot Program.

The CEB Cadet Pilot Program is a 96-week, self-funded program that trains candidates to become licensed commercial pilots. The program promises

aspiring pilots with training experience, mentorship and eventually guaranteed employment with the airline.

Ong said the cadet pilot program will further provide aspiring pilots with the means to fulfill their dreams at the most competitive cost and incentives.

Data from the International Air Transport Association show that every job in the air transport industry supports 29 other jobs in tourism, supply chain and other related sectors.

Capt. Samuel Avila II, CEB vice president for Flight Operations said that the program will allow them to produce highly skilled pilots to “provide safe, convenient and reliable flights for every Juan.”

CEB is the only airline in the Philippines with a cadet pilot program. It is also designed to support CEB’s expanding fleet and network.

152-plane historic order

On Tuesday, July 2, CEB announced it is buying up to 152 A321neo aircraft for $24 billion (P1.4 trillion), the largest aircraft order in Philippine history. CEB chose Pratt & Whitney GTF™ engines for these aircraft.

The memorandum of understanding includes firm orders for up to 102 A321neo aircraft and purchase rights for 50 more from the A320neo Family. The final purchase agreement is expected to be completed in the third quarter of the year.

Ong lauded CEB’s historic 152-plane order as it marks a pivotal moment for the country.

“As tourism is poised to become the foremost driver of growth and employment, the necessity for substantial investments in infrastructure and aviation has never been greater,” said Ong. He added that this would not only make air travel affordable but would also unlock new cities for direct international flights, attracting more tourists.

According to Ong, they anticipate a continued surge in travel, driven by younger people prioritizing travel on their bucket lists.

“The younger generation don’t like luxury things anymore. What they like is to travel and experience new things. So, clearly there is high demand in travel, thus the need for more pilots, flight crews,” he said.

The Cadet Pilot Program is divided into three phases. The first phase is dedicated to a four-week Aviation Foundation Course conducted in Pasay City, Metro Manila.

For the second phase, the cadets will be sent to study and train at the Airworks Aviation Academy at Mactan International Airport, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu where they will complete the Basic Flight Training for 68 weeks.

Entry-level salary

Lastly, the cadets will be sent back to Pasay City, Metro Manila for the Airline Integration Training, which is set to run for 24 weeks.

One good thing about being a pilot is they could practice their profession anywhere.

“A pilot here is a pilot anywhere in the world,” said Ong.

An entry-level pilot’s salary ranges from P220,000 to P270,000 per month in the Philippines. Within five to seven years, they can be promoted to captain. Besides the high pay, a pilot is only required to fly 100 hours per month or 1,000 hours per year.

“So it’s like getting a work break every two weeks,” he said, highlighting other additional perks such as free travel for immediate family members. (KOC)

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