Examiner appointed to Waterford pilot training school


REPRESENTATIVES OF an airline, as well as parents of students owed money by the troubled pilot training school in Waterford, expressed concern in the High Court yesterday about the running of the school in the past 18 months.

A lawyer for Kazakhstani national carrier Air Astana and a number of parents and students were in court yesterday when Mr Justice Brian McGovern confirmed the appointment of Michael McAteer as examiner to the Waterford-based Pilot Training College of Ireland (PTCI).

The company last week sought and was given temporary court protection to give it time to come up with a scheme aimed at securing its survival.

Earlier this month, about 80 people undergoing part of their PTCI training at a facility in Florida were left stranded after being told the training would not be continuing, each having paid about €80,000 for the course. About 350 trainees and prospective trainees are now owed money in fees paid to PTCI.

As part of a survival plan proposed by an independent accountant, PTCI is to concentrate on its core activity, multi-engine instrument rating (MEIR) training, at its Waterford base.

Frank McManus, whose daughter is one of the trainees, told the court yesterday he was concerned many of the students had not reached the MEIR stage of training and would have to find and fund alternative interim training which had previously been subcontracted out by PTCI.

Brian Kealy, another parent, said he would like to see the examiner look at the performance of the company in the past 18 months because it appeared to be trading with continuing losses and deferring substantial amounts of income while at the same time having difficulty getting students.

The court also heard Air Astana, which had 76 pilots training with PTCI and is owed up to $1.9 million (€1.54 million), was also concerned about the manner of the company’s trading in recent months.

Mr Justice McGovern said his only function at this stage was to decide whether to confirm the appointment of the examiner on the basis the company had a reasonable prospect of survival, which would ensure creditors, including the 350 students, would get something rather than nothing if the company was wound up.