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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
A Fianna Fáil senator has urged the transport minister to investigate what happened to the €10m in fees paid by hundreds of trainee pilots after they went into the bank account of a Waterford-based company.
Denis O’Donovan will also seek further details about the statement sent to Irish Aviation Authority, and signed off on by Pilot Training College’s (PTC) auditors, last October, which confirmed the company had sufficient funds to enable student training to be completed to required standards.
Meanwhile, PTC released details last night of how it intends to look after the 180 private and airline-sponsored students from whom it took fees over the past 18 months but then left in the lurch in Florida.
It said 71 of the trainees stranded in Florida may be able to transfer to CAE Oxford Aviation Academy to begin a new training contract. However, any students accepted for the course will be asked to pay a new round of fees — despite having already forked out up to €85,000 in training to PTC.
A PTC spokesman said: "While CAE Oxford Aviation Academy will offer a moderate discount to offset part of the amount already paid for the course, PTC recognises and deeply regrets that a number of students will incur additional costs in having their training completed as a result of the ongoing dispute."
A further 39 students can transfer to CAE without any new cost. The remaining 70 are being transferred to new courses by their sponsor airlines — with their airline bearing the brunt of PTC’s collapse.
Last night, Florida Institute of Technology said it had initiated legal action against PTC.
The institute said it continued "to assist the 186 flight students whose training has ended after their contracting flight company, PTC, quit paying its bills. As of July 9, as many as 89 of the students ... were making plans to stay and continue their training."
The institute said PTC owed it $1.4m (€1.13m) "for services already rendered — Florida Tech received no advance fees that PTC collected from students prior to entering the programme".
An estimated €10m was paid to PTC by 180 private and airline-sponsored students over the past 18 months. Many private students incurred sizeable loans to pay for the course or else their parents re-mortgaged their home.
However, about two weeks ago, the students were informed their course had folded and that if they wanted to continue their flight training, they would have to start afresh elsewhere.
Mr O’Donovan will raise the issue in the Seanad today.
"What does this mess say to the parents of Chinese or Spanish students who are considering sending their children to private colleges here to be educated? We now need to know how this company was approved by its auditors."
Last night, Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh told the Dáil he knew of "one particular Donegal student pilot who paid five-figure fees to PTC Waterford on June 14 last for training in Florida".
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