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Special event . . . New Zealand Airline Academy students and staff, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher and pastors Eugen Dupu, Damien Goodsir and Norm MacLeod gather for the blessing and naming of two new aircraft at Oamaru Airport on Monday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The New Zealand Airline Academy celebrated the arrival of two new aircraft at Oamaru Airport on Monday.

The two Tecnam P2008 aircraft, each worth about $400,000, were blessed and given Maori names at a special ceremony, attended by pastors Eugen Dupu, Damien Goodsir and Norm MacLeod, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher and New Zealand Airline Academy students and staff.

The New Zealand Airline Academy was the first flight school in the country to be training students in glass cockpits with touch screens, director Jonathan Manuel said.

Mr Kircher suggested the two new aircraft were given Maori names and, at Monday’s event, one was dubbed Te Waka Whakatairanga, which meant elevation, to be lifted higher or promotion.

The second was called Te Waka Rongopai, which translated to “you hear its sound long before it arrives and also, word of (the company) travels everywhere and it is always good”, Mr Kircher said.

At present, the New Zealand Airline Academy’s Oamaru school had six planes, with another multi-engine aircraft on its way, eight instructors and 70 students, Mr Manuel said.

The first intake of 22 AirAsia India students arrived in December, after the New Zealand Airline Academy inked a training deal with the budget carrier in May 2019. The second intake of students is scheduled to arrive in May this year.

“But with [Covid-19], we’re not sure how things are going to turn out,” Mr Manuel said.

The Oamaru community had been very welcoming of the school and its students since it opened at Oamaru Airport in 2018, Mr Manuel said.

“The people of Oamaru have been great, very welcoming,” he said.