Thursday 22 March 2018

Rescue helicopter firm suffers €1.5m loss

John Mulligan

CHC Ireland, the Canadian-owned firm that provides search and rescue helicopter services here on behalf of the Coast Guard, made a €1.5m operating loss in the 12 months to the end of last April, according to accounts just filed for the company's Irish arm. That followed a €3.2m loss the previous financial year.

Last summer, CHC, which is the world's largest helicopter services company, was awarded a new €500m, 10-year contract by the Government to operate the search and rescue services in Ireland.

That contract starts next year and CHC is upgrading its fleet of helicopters here as a result. The search and rescue services operate out of Dublin, Shannon, Waterford and Sligo.

The Air Corps had indicated to then Transport Minister Noel Dempsey last year 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 refused to discuss the Air Corps proposals.

The CHC accounts show that turnover at the firm declined 4pc to €23.5m in its last financial year, while net operating expenses also fell, by almost 10pc, to €25.1m.

CHC employs more than 100 people in Ireland, including pilots, engineers, rescue staff and ground staff. The number of hours flown by its crews last year fell to 3,353 from 3,412 the previous year.

Directors note that the loss in the last financial year was reduced significantly due to the closure of CHC's base in Cork, as well as improved aircraft availability that resulted in lower lease costs.

They added that savings achieved during the year had been partially offset by unfavourable exchange rate movements, but the closure of the Cork base and ongoing cost initiatives would result in further improvement in the overall financial performance in the coming years. CHC operates more than 250 aircraft in 30 countries around the world.

Irish Independent

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