Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) is convinced that its decision to expand globally, driven partly by local competition in the offshore oil and gas industry, is proving correct. The company now has contracts in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Spain, Pakistan, Eritrea, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Australia, India, Afghanistan and Indonesia, and more in the pipeline.
With a fleet of 54 Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland helicopters as well as three DHC-8 turboprops, ADA (Stand C200) is the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East. Headquartered at Abu Dhabi International Airport, the company supplies or manages helicopters in several markets, including medical evacuation, survey, photography and charter. But some 40 percent of its business is supporting the Abu Dhabi offshore oil and gas industry, working mainly for Adma-Opco. In recent years, it has been challenged for that business by Falcon Aviation Services (FAS), based at Al Bateen Executive Airport.
“We had a choice to either downsize the company…or to start looking on a global level, which we’ve done over the last three years,” Khaled Mashhour, ADA marketing manager, told AIN. The company already had a global presence, he said, but not one based on long-term contracts. Then FAS, formed in 2006, presented competition in the oil sector. “I would say that instigated,” ADA’s growth strategy, he said, crediting the vision of the company’s chairman, H.E. Nadar Ahmed Mohammed Al Hamadi.
The company has based four Bell 412s and two AgustaWestland AW139s in Saudi Arabia, where the company performs aeromedical services for the Saudi Red Crescent. That business could grow to 20 helicopters in the next five years, Mashhour said. Seven 212s are performing long-line operations in support of the mining industry in Australia and Papua New Guinea. And ADA alone among commercial operators is supporting the oil industry in Iraq, basing a Bell 412 in Basra.
Over the past five years, ADA has expanded its fleet with 16 of the twin-turbine AW139s, and the company is expected to announce a joint venture with manufacturer AgustaWestland here at the Dubai Air Show. With extended range of some 400 nm without refueling, and the capability to carry up to 15 passengers, the AW139 is increasingly in demand as oil producers move to deeper waters for drilling.
Mashhour said ADA expects even more business from Adma-Opco, which has substantial expansion plans. It curretnly averages 200,000 takeoffs and landings a year, and transporting roughly 15,000 passengers and 162,000 kilograms of freight per month in support of offshore operations.o