Bristow Helicopters Australia, an affiliate of the US-based Bristow Group, has bought a controlling 85 per cent stake in Australian regional carrier and Qantas codeshare partner Airnorth.
Bristow Group said in a regulatory filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission it paid A$30.3 million cash for the majority stake in Airnorth, with a further A$17 million due over the following three years if certain financial targets were met.
Airnorth chief executive Michael Bridge says the airline will keep its name and brand identity following the deal and there would be no interruption to services.
Moreover, all Airnorth staff are being retained.
“Our new partnership with Bristow Australia will see further expansion for the company and its services to charter clients,” Bridge said in a statement on Friday.
“We are very proud to be Australia’s second oldest airline and this is an exciting time of growth for Airnorth, our staff and customers.”
Bridge noted both companies had worked together previously to provide air services to existing clients.
Airnorth had nine Embraer EMB-120 and Metro 23 turboprops and four Embraer E-170 regional jets in its fleet and provided both scheduled regular public transport flights and charter services in Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Timor-Leste.
Bristow Group chief executive Jonathan Baliff said the deal strengthened the company’s position in Australia and improved access to markets in South East Asia.
And a director of Bristow’s Australia business unit Allan Blake said the addition of a fixed-wing operator would allow the combined group to bid for more contracts.
“Recent tenders in Australia have requested fixed-wing services, including arranging travel through Bristow Travel (Australia) and providing fixed-wing transport,” Blake said in a statement.
“The potential exists to reduce the clients’ costs associated with travel, accommodation and passenger logistics, by providing holistic fixed-wing to rotary-wing solutions to our oil and gas clients.”