Riverside Flight School Reopening After Coronavirus Emergency Shutdown

The school is permitting students and instructors to return, provided they follow social distancing rules.

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NBC 7 San Diego

A Riverside Municipal Airport flight school that closed its doors immediately after Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order took effect will be reopening Monday, joining other businesses resuming operations under constraints.

"We have taken precautions ... and worked tirelessly to figure out a safe and legal way to reopen the flight school," NextGen Flight Academy owner Brandon Martini said in a prepared statement. "We now have the legal ability to reopen due to getting permission from the state, as well as the FAA."

NextGen was shut down on March 19, and Martini dropped all office staff and flight instructors from the payroll, retaining a single mechanic to continue hangar operations, fixing and modifying airplanes.

The school maintains six aircraft for instruction and general rental at its main hub in Riverside and a satellite office in Redlands.

City News Service spoke with Martini within a few days of the flight school shutdown, and at the time, he was uncertain of when he might be able to reopen.

He estimated his revenue losses would range anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 for a month-long closure. The school will have been inactive roughly seven weeks by the time it returns to business Monday.

Newsom announced Thursday that the state was in phase two of his multi- point plan to roll back coronavirus-related regulations, permitting some retailers, manufacturers and warehouse operators to go back online under a bevy of controls, including requirements that workers use "personal protective equipment."

Martini said NextGen will enforce social distancing limits, permitting only one visitor at a time in the main office at Riverside Municipal Airport, and all dual flights involving instructors and students will necessitate parties using face coverings.

"There will be hand sanitizer available for everyone to use, and we will be cleaning each airplane before and after every flight," Martini said.

According to the flight school owner, trade journals indicated about 80% of flight schools nationwide suspended operations amid the coronavirus emergency. It is unknown how many have reopened since last month.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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