Airways Chief Executive Ed Sims signed the MOU on the first day of a week-long visit to China by a business delegation led by Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. The MOU is with the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China (CAMIC).
Airways is exploring opportunities for CAMIC students to join those from Tianjin University already being trained in Palmerston North and a concurrent opportunity for New Zealand trainers to be based in Beijing working on an Academy proposal involving hundreds more students.
Areas of cooperation set out in the MOU include aviation training fields such as:
project and risk management
safety management systems
air traffic control including computer-based training technologies
Mr Sims says Airways - a state-owned enterprise - has the ability to play a major role in maximising safety in China's huge and rapidly-expanding aviation industry.
He says the MOU would enable the establishment of professional development workshops in New Zealand or China for air traffic controllers, aviation management personnel and maintenance engineers.
It is likely the New Zealand training courses would be based in Christchurch and Palmerston North.
Mr Sims says the presence and timing of the delegation played a vital role in fast tracking the signing of the MoU with CAMIC.
"While discussions on this have been underway for many months, having Mayor Wade-Brown in town to support our activities played a significant part in expediting the contract.
"Airways status as a State-owned enterprise carries tremendous mana in countries like China. The presence of the Mayor in active support reaffirms for our Chinese colleagues the level of political backing Airways receives at both national and regional-civic level.
"While it's often difficult for New Zealand companies to compete on scale or investment levels, our political credibility provides real differentiation over competitive countries."
Mayor Wade-Brown says she is delighted the delegation has got off on such a successful note. "We have almost 40 members of the Wellington and national business community on this trip - everyone is intent on making the most of the business opportunities that can make themselves available on a politically-led delegation."
Councillor Jo Coughlan, Wellington City's Council's Economy Portfolio Leader, who is also part of the delegation, says the Airways MOU "demonstrates the value of New Zealand and Wellington expertise in a global setting".