Air traffic control students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia graduate in New Zealand

Graduation of the eighth cohort of GACA students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ©Airways International

The eighth cohort of General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has graduated from air traffic control (ATC) training with Airways International (Airways), 11 years after the first group to arrive in New Zealand completed their training.

GACA and Airways celebrated this milestone on Thursday June 3, as 34 students attended their graduation ceremony in Palmerston North following two years of study in New Zealand. Almost 200 students from Saudi Arabia have completed ATC training with Airways since the first cohort landed in New Zealand in 2009.

The graduates included four female students – the first Saudi Arabian females to train as air traffic controllers outside their own country. Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS) will employ the graduates on their return to Saudi Arabia and are prioritizing hiring women in the ATC profession, with the aim to extend female employment and empowerment. The organisation is offering theoretical and practical ATC training to 80 women per year to prepare them for work in the ATC sector – the first cohort of female ATCs started work in Jeddah in March 2019.

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