Wednesday 22 November 2017

Profits soar to €3.4m at firm behind coast guard helicopters

Irish Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter. Photo: Irish Coast Guard
Irish Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter. Photo: Irish Coast Guard
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The Canadian-owned firm that provides Ireland's search and rescue helicopter service made a €3.4m profit last year - almost eight times the amount it made in 2014.

The Irish subsidiary of the Canadian firm CHC said its turnover jumped nearly 24pc to €52m in the 12 months to the end of April last year, helping its profits to soar.

CHC Ireland operates search and rescue services (SAR) for the Irish Coast Guard from four main bases here - Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford.

It was awarded a 10-year, €500m contract by the Government in 2012 to operate the life-saving service. The Air Corps had traditionally provided Ireland's search and rescue capability.

The Air Corps had indicated to then Transport Minister Noel Dempsey in 2010 that it could provide the service at a considerable discount to the price CHC would be paid, with savings of tens of millions of euro to the taxpayer, but Mr Dempsey had apparently declined to discuss the Air Corps proposals.

A number of former Defence Forces personnel now work for CHC Ireland. A set of accounts just filed at the Companies Office for CHC Ireland reveal the latest financial performance of the firm.

The accounts also show the company undertook 3,331 hours of search and rescue operations in the 12 months to the end of last April, compared to 3,193 in the previous 12-month period.

In 2015, the helicopter search and rescue service completed more than 1,000 missions - the first time the 1,000 mark had ever been passed.

The Irish Coast Guard said many of the operations were carried out in "challenging weather conditions, at night and deep into the Atlantic".

Among the final life-saving missions of 2015 was the transfer of a pregnant woman from Inis Mór to Galway University Hospital.

As well as allowing for longer ranges, and higher cruising speeds, the new search and rescue helicopter fleet currently operated by CHC for the Coast Guard has enhanced equipment such as forward-looking infrared, 'night sun' search lights, satellite communications and on-board paramedic care services.

CHC Ireland employed 129 people at the end of last April.

Irish Independent

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