Crawley Observer:PILOTS on a Gatwick training scheme have been suspended and recalled to politically turbulent Bahrain.
The GAA would not comment on reports in the national press that the trainees were suspended for attending a peaceful pro-democracy protest in London.
The Gatwick-based company contracted to carry out the training, the Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) suspended the pilots at the request GAA.
A spokesperson for OAA said: “Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) is a UK based pilot training organisation which has a current contractual agreement to provide professional airline pilot training for students sponsored through the Bahrain based Gulf Aviation Academy (GAA).
“The students are contracted directly with their Bahraini sponsor, GAA, and not directly with OAA. OAA simply acts as the service provider of the pilot training services subcontracted by GAA.
“As the sponsor of their students, GAA has informed OAA that they have made a decision that a number of their students should be temporarily suspended from their pilot training and is making arrangements for these students to return to Bahrain to discuss their continued sponsorship arrangements. GAA has also communicated this same decision directly with their students.
“As directed by the sponsor GAA, OAA has suspended the students from their pilot training but still continues to provide residential accommodation, food and full welfare support services to the students without any pressure or imperative for them to leave OAA accommodation.”
The Gatwick-based OAA has been criticised by Bahraini human rights groups for its decision to suspend the trainees.
According to international reports protesters in the Gulf state have been beaten, rounded up and put on trial for conspiring to overthrow the Government.
Four protesters have been sentenced to death by military tribunals after policemen were killed during rioting.
The spokesperson for OAA added: “GAA continues to communicate directly with their sponsored students to make appropriate arrangements for their return to Bahrain.
“In the meantime, OAA continues to provide (and will continue to provide) accommodation, food and welfare support services to the students as these arrangements are made by GAA. No actions are being taken by OAA which are, in any way, prejudicial to the students.
“If GAA informs OAA that pilot training for these students should recommence, then OAA will recommence the training as instructed by the sponsor.”