Helicopter CEO Steffen Bay: ‘It will be a year of consolidation’


Air 2 air shoot with NHV helicopter H145T2 above Rentel wind farm in the North Sea.

Air 2 air shoot with NHV helicopter H145T2 above Rentel wind farm in the North Sea.

2021 will be a year of consolidation, NHV Helicopters CEO, Steffen Bay, told Helicopter/VTOL Investor.

Bay expects activity levels to pick up once the vaccine rollout take effect and people feel confident to travel again. “There is usually a correlation between the price of oil and drilling activity. So, if the vaccination rollout will work and people start going out and travelling again, the service providers should somewhat recover with the oil companies.”

At a recent Helicopter Investor virtual Town Hall meeting, Steve Robertson, principal and founder of Air & Sea Analytics said the industry’s adaptability has “allowed it to return to almost a normal level of activity”.

In 2020, the company executed a refinancing with its stakeholders, Bay said. The decision to refinance was a fallout of Covid-19.

“We needed to readjust our financing structure to the new reality. An alignment with our banks – local ones we have worked with for a long time – and shareholders. Some debt was converted into equity and we found new arrangements. But nobody lost any money.

“Unlike most other helicopter company, we had reduced debt in previous years. We also managed to modernise our fleet and disposed of idle assets.”

Despite the pandemic, NHV was able to open to new bases and win new contracts.

“We won a three-year contract Southern North Sea (SNS) tender for Shell to fly two AW139s out of Norwich and Den Helder. Also, we have won a contract with Spirit Energy based in Blackpool and after adding one AW169 in December, we will add another this September for oil company Eni.”

NHV won a contract to provide maintenance for three H145s to the Bundeswehr (German army) for training. NHV is the first non-German company to work with the army in this space. The three helicopters are financed by Milestone Aviation.

Elsewhere, Bay said the helicopter medical emergency services (HEMS) sector saw less activity last year because there were fewer people driving and therefore had less accidents. But there was some compensation through activity to transport patients and medical supplies between hospitals for Covid-19.

There was not a huge negative impact on the HEMS business. Initially there was, but then it came back.”

Bay continued: “The windfarms kept producing, so no big impact there. On the harbour pilot contracts, we had an impact because the cargo levels decreased a bit. But that has recovered very quickly. Now it depends more on the weather than the overall cargo activity.”  

Aside from consolidation in 2021, Bay said the company might add occasional contracts, if it fits into the company’s fleet and geographic strategy. “Other than that, we are looking into our cost structure and looking to become more profitable within the existing setup.”

Earlier this month, NHV announced it had won an 18-month offshore contract with Neptune Energy Aberdeen.

Watch last week’s Helicopter Investor Town Hall addressing the state of the market:

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