Can a pilot emigrate to Australia?

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Australia is the No. 1 dream destination for Swiss people who want to emigrate. Rodo Ehrat has lived there for 22 years.

This content was published on February 18, 2002 - 3:43 pm

In Switzerland itself, the "foreigner question" is very important. Little is known, however, that the trend among Swiss people to emigrate is increasing at the same time. Today one in ten Swiss lives abroad. And half of all Swiss nationals dream of emigrating from time to time (see the emigration survey on swissinfo).

Higher quality of life

Rodolphe Ehrat from Geneva turned his dreams into reality: for 22 years he has been living in Sydney, Australia, where the largest Swiss community on the 5th continent is at home. Ehrat worked at Sulzer Asia / Pacific until 1997, most recently as CEO. "I could have made more money in the US," Ehrat told swissinfo. "But in Australia the quality of life is higher".

Typically Swiss, Ehrat remained loyal to his company for 20 years. "But the development of the large corporations has given me more and more trouble in recent years," he says today. He got out because he wanted to realize his own work philosophy and corporate culture.

Computer science on your own

With his Australian partner, he runs Savant Systems Int., An IT company in Syndey. It produces intelligent databases for various branches of industry. Almost four years after it was launched, the Savant is already generating millions in sales.

Many Swiss abroad hold high positions in the economy in Australia. Ehrat himself also sits on the director's chair of the Swiss-Australian Chamber of Commerce on a voluntary basis. "The Swiss are well organized down under and stick together," he says.

Great hobby

Ehrat, a little over 50, has also had a flight license since 1964. As an avid pilot, he even ran his own small airline in the 1980s. He offered taxi flights with up to six twin-engine aircraft.

But "meanwhile, flying has become quite complicated," says Ehrat. He would have had to hire more staff because of the stricter requirements. Instead, the chemical engineer sold all of the aircraft and only operates flying as a hobby.

Christian Messerli, Sydney

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