Canadian Helicopters Group Inc. (TSX: CHL.A, CHL.B) (the “Company"), an international provider of helicopter transportation and related support services, announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Helicopters Australia Pty Limited (“HNZ”), has entered into an agreement with Rio Tinto for a renewed contract for an extended period with new helicopters.
Beginning in March 2013, HNZ will replace its existing two Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters currently on contract, with the first of three new AgustaWestland AW109SP “GrandNew” helicopters. The helicopters will continue to provide a Marine Pilot transfer service to Rio Tinto’s iron ore carriers at Dampier and Cape Lambert Ports in West Australia. The addition of a third helicopter will provide additional capacity for Rio Tinto’s expansion plans at Cape Lambert. All three helicopters will be in service by September 2013.
HNZ has provided this service to Rio Tinto from its Karratha Base continuously since 1992. Throughout this time HNZ has, with the support of Rio Tinto, developed a world class Marine Pilot Transfer service utilising the latest technologies and operating systems, and provides for safe, reliable services to this important industry for the Australian economy. The introduction of the AW109SP “GrandNew” will provide a best in class aircraft and service to Rio Tinto.
The new contract is for a 10 year period starting May 1, 2013 and will replace the existing agreement scheduled to expire on the same date. Revenues under the contract during the term are expected to be a minimum of AU$125 million (excluding annual escalations), an increase of AU$11 million over the current contract. The three aircraft required to perform the work will be obtained by way of purchase or lease and the two existing EC145 aircraft will be redeployed or offered for sale following the successful introduction of the new aircraft in 2013.
Canadian Helicopters Group’s President and CEO, Don Wall, said: “We are extremely pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Rio Tinto in Western Australia. In partnership with Rio Tinto, we have continuously sought ways to improve customer service and safety standards. This new investment in the latest technology AW109SP “GrandNew” aircraft signifies those shared commitments and we look forward to continuing to support the expansion of iron ore operations throughout Western Australia.”
ABOUT CANADIAN HELICOPTERS GROUP INC.
Canadian Helicopters Group is an international provider of helicopter transportation and related support services with fixed primary operations in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and regions of Southeast Asia. The group also delivers contracted on demand support in Afghanistan and Antarctica. Charter operations are provided under two brands: Helicopters New Zealand (HNZ) in the Asia Pacific and Antarctica regions and Canadian Helicopters Limited (CHL) in Canada and Afghanistan. In addition to charter services, the Company provides flight training and third party repair and maintenance services. With headquarters near Montreal, Canada, the Company operates approximately 140 helicopters and employs approximately 800 personnel.