LORD John Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, Northumberland has partnered with a North East pilot to launch their own in-flight training school.

The North East Flight Academy, based at Newcastle International Airport, has been financed by Lord Stevens, a keen pilot himself, who has teamed up with Ben Harrison, 25 from Whitley Bay who will run the academy as full-time chief executive.

Lord Stevens is following in the footsteps of his father, Steve also known as CJ, who was the chairman and managing director of BKS Air Transport, the UK’s oldest and largest domestic carrier that flew charters and freight since 1953 and then became part of British Airways in 1973.

Lord Stevens has invested a substantial amount in aircraft and facilities to continue the legacy of operating a flying school out of Newcastle airport since this date.

The North East Flight Academy will offer professional one to one flight training tailored around each individual student, whether they wish to fly for pleasure or become a fully qualified pilot.

Lord Stevens said: “Flying has always been a passion of mine and the academy fulfils a long-held ambition.

“I have been around aircraft from as long as I can remember. My father Steve was one of the founders of BKS Transport, which initially flew charters and freight until they were granted permission to operate schedule services between Newcastle, Isle of Man and Jersey. It then became BKS Air Transport in 1953.

“In 1955 the airline expanded with flights to Malaga and in 1957 longer scheduled services to Basle, Belfast, Bilbao, Dublin and Santander then Newcastle to London were launched.  BKS carried around 1 million passengers a year and in July 1973 the airline became part of British Airways.

“It is with my father in mind, and my personal passion for flying and operating aircraft that I have invested so wholeheartedly in this venture and am continuing with my father’s legacy.

“I am proud to partner with Ben, who at such a young age as already shown such commitment and skill to this career and I’m sure he will make this an incredibly successful business.”

The North East Flight Academy gained support from Robson Laidler accountants in Jesmond who advised on the business structure, funding and marketing. Robson Laidler also set the business up on Cloud based accounting software platform Xero, so financial figures can be generated in real time, allowing the business to forecast and plan efficiently. The North East Flight Academy has also been set up with Receipt Bank for invoicing and Square for payment processing.

Robson Laidler chief executive Graham Purvis said: “Its been a pleasure advising on this enterprise and seeing the business come together. One of the best things about my job is seeing business ideas like this come to life. I wish Lord Stevens, Ben and the rest of the team all the best in their new venture. I am sure it will be a huge success.”

As well as chief executive Ben, who initially trained at Northumbria Flying School and then completed his advanced pilot instructor course at Dundee Tayside Aviation, the business has appointed seven instructors, two of which are ex airline captains who will bring their knowledge and expertise to the business.

Within the next 6-months the business aims to extend into commercial training and is already in talks with two large and commercial in flight training schools in the UK.

The North East Flight Academy has launched in time for the Christmas trade and is offering a gift voucher scheme with prices starting from £115 for a 30 minute flying lesson.

For more information contact the North East Flight Academy on 0191 580 6550 or email info@northeastflightacademy.co.uk.

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