Portuguese firm invests in French helo operator

 - June 9, 2008, 6:45 AM

Consolidation among European helicopter operators continues, with Heliportugal joining forces with French operator SAF Helicap, creating a fleet of nearly 50 aircraft.

Sources at the French helicopter association say the Portuguese firm has taken over its French counterpart. However, Joana Monteiro, Heliportugal’s head of customer care, confirmed only that the two operators have gotten “closer.” Heliportugal operates 18 rotorcraft (six AS 365N/N1 Dauphins, eight AS 350 Ecureuils, one EC 120 Colibri, two AgustaWestland AW139s and one Kamov Ka-32). The operator provides aerial work, executive transport, filming, firefighting, EMS and offshore transport.

SAF Helicap CEO Eric Fraissinet confirmed to AIN that new shareholders have taken a stake in the company, but he did not mention Heliportugal by name. He said the management team remains the same. “This change in our shareholding is good for us; it makes us stronger at a time when regulation is getting increasingly stringent,” he said. There are approximately 30 helicopters in SAF Helicap’s fleet. They are flown mainly for EMS and mountain aerial-work missions.

SAF Helicap and Heliportugal have a longstanding relationship, regularly operating jointly in the French mountains and fighting forest fires in Portugal.