Ixair reduces training ops and staffing

 - August 28, 2009, 7:33 AM

France-based helicopter operator Ixair is stopping its private pilot training business and laying off about 10 employees. These changes, combined with slow demand for passenger transport, have caused a reorganization of the company’s sites throughout the country.

CEO Laurent Safar told AIN in July that the company is keeping only professional pilot training among its helicopter training options. He said that despite solid sales the business is still “not very profitable.” There are “few synergies” with Ixair’s other activities, he added. From now on, all pilots will be trained from Toussus-le-Noble (in the western outskirts of Paris). The Auch site in southwest France will no longer provide training.

Auch was also Ixair’s main maintenance center. It now has a secondary role in maintenance. Therefore, “fewer than 10 employees” will be either laid off or offered the option of moving to Toussus, the new main maintenance center. In total, Ixair is reducing its staff from “more than 90” today to about 80 in the short term.

Due to the cutback in the training activity, Ixair is planning to dispose of one or more of its “twenty or so” helicopters. Safar denied scuttlebutt that Ixair has canceled orders for the Guimbal Cabri. “We took delivery of our second example in June and we have been very happy with the first one,” he said, adding that there is more demand for the Cabri than for Robinson R22s.

Activities that are doing well at Ixair include helicopter aerial work and business jet executive charter. “After a slow first quarter, the level of activity has grown again and is now satisfactory,” Safar said. Ixair has a fleet of “about ten” Dassault Falcon 50/900s and Cessna Citation CJ1/2/3s.

The company offered helicopter flights between the Paris heliport (at the southwest end of the city) and Le Bourget during the Paris Air Show. That venture was a commercial success, said Safar.