Bosses at helicopter operator CHC are confident its North Sea business is headed in the right direction despite losses more than doubling in its last financial year.
Accounts lodged at Companies House show CHC Scotia, the US group’s subsidiary serving markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, sank deeper into the red during the 12 months to April 30, 2017.
The business suffered pre-tax losses of £17.9million, compared with a trading deficit of £8.1million 2015/16. Turnover in the latest period was down by more than £7million, at £133.6million.
But the management team is bullish about prospects amid continuing signs of a sustained recovery in its markets. Its renewed confidence also stems from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US during 2016, freeing the Texas-based group of a large chunk of a colossal debt burden.
A spokesman said: “Whilst market conditions remain challenging, the underlying performance of the business continues to improve through major contract wins across our region, and renewals as well as enhancements in efficiency.
“We do expect to see an improvement of results as a consequence of Chapter 11 – for example, a reduction of £7million of lease costs per annum, associated with EC225 plus further fleet cost reductions.”
CHC no longer has any of the controversial EC225 Super Puma aircraft in its UK fleet. This model of helicopter has not been used for flying workers offshore in the North Sea since a fatal crash in Norway in April 2016.
The CHC spokesman said the company had “demonstrated significant resilience” throughout the 2016/17 trading year, while it was also committed to investment and winning new work.
He added: “Our competitive position as a major provider of helicopter transportation services to the oil and gas industry has been further enhanced by the substantial improvements secured by CHC Group’s successful emergence from Chapter 11 proceedings.
“As a group, CHC has successfully restructured and we are now well-positioned to sustain the protracted downturn and capitalise on the eventual market recovery.”
A £4million-plus revamp of CHC’s terminal and hangar at Aberdeen International Airport got under way just last month. The first phase of the project, focusing on delivery of a modern flight operations centre, is expected to be finished by June. Work to create “world class” facilities will then begin. The heliport roof will be raised and partially covered with glass, and a second-floor lounge will be built, with the whole project slated for completion by November.
CHC recently added three new Airbus-made H175s to its North Sea fleet, while it is also investing in facilities in Humberside and its Irish search and rescue operation.