Whanganui District Council has pumped $150,000 into its flight school and could do the same again next month in an effort to keep the business afloat.
After giving an initial $150,000 to Whanganui District Council Holdings - which owns the school - the second round of $150,000 could be available next month, providing the Government confirms sufficient MIQ places for international students to enable the company to operate in a solvent manner.
Council chief executive Kym Fell said the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy (NZICPA), like all aviation-related companies, had been impacted by border closures due to Covid-19.
"But we believe the company has a viable future, based on its pre-Covid performance," he said.
He said the funding would provide interim support to NZICPA while the Government considers when international students will be allowed back into New Zealand.
The business has been owned by the council since 2015, when the existing school was moved from Feilding to Whanganui.
In December, the drop in revenue due to the lack of international students resulted in the academy announcing three redundancies - two flight instructors and one admin staff member.
Last week the Chronicle reported NZICPA had 76 students, down from 94 in October 2020.
The Chronicle reported in April that more than 80 prospective students in India are currently waiting to travel to New Zealand, after largely completing the online training put together by the academy.
Also in April, Whanganui MP Steph Lewis told the Chronicle she had been lobbying the Government to allow an exemption for overseas students to enter the country to attend the academy.
Lewis had been working alongside Rachel Boyack, the MP for Nelson, where there is another flight school, and the chief executive of Aviation New Zealand, John Nicholson.
"We are working on putting together an industry-wide exemption. It's a very complex issue because it's across a number of responsibilities - immigration, education, transport," she said at the time.
On Sunday Lewis told the Chronicle the application was now sitting with officials and relevant ministers, with an update expected in the coming weeks.
"I've been continuing to advocate for the flight school and support the flight education industry's application. The application has to be assessed by officials as well, and I'm hopeful that we'll get an update in the next few weeks."
NZICPA chairman David Rae said the pilot academy continued to operate despite a challenging global situation.
"International students are able to complete some modules remotely and NZICPA is also focusing on developing training tools and resources," Rae said.
Whanganui District Council Holdings chairman Declan Millin said substantial work was undertaken by the academy's board to establish the academy as a category one provider for the training of student pilots.
He said it was expected the high demand for pilots would continue post-Covid, and could even increase.
"This investment will enable the NZICPA to quickly respond once international pilot students are back in New Zealand, providing returns on the council's investment and economic benefit to Whanganui."
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall was contacted for comment.