Last week’s NBAA Flight Plan podcast offered aircraft operators headed for the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia a number of safety tips made even more important now that numerous security threats have surfaced. Some of the most valuable tips include what some might see as obvious reminders, such as having the right visa upon arrival. NBAA is also warning visitors to carry proper identification at all times, to keep a low profile while within the country and to tanker fuel when possible.
Helicopter operator Avincis Group and engineering support specialist Babcock International, both UK-based, are in discussions about establishing a joint venture. The talks are exclusive but there is no certainty they will lead to any transaction, the two companies pointed out. The British press has described the talks as a prelude to a likely takeover of Avincis, currently owned by KKR and Investindustrial, by Babcock. However, the two companies dismissed such stories as speculation.
New York investment banking behemoth Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) is placing a big bet on one helicopter services company supporting the offshore oil-and-gas industry. Last month KKR took a $200 million stake in Malaysia’s Weststar Aviation Services. Weststar provides offshore support to a variety of energy companies in the region, including Petronas Carigali, ExxonMobil, Carigali Hess, CPOC, Talisman, Petrofac, Newfield, Total, KPOC, Lundin, Schlumberger, Hess, Shell, Tullow Oil, Mubadala Petroleum, CGG Veritas and ConocoPhillips.
Ryanair said it will appeal Wednesday’s ruling by a provincial court in France that imposed fines and damages totaling €8 million ($10.8 million), the majority of which relate to alleged non-payment of French social insurance and state pension contributions for Ryanair crews flying to and from Marseille from 2007 to 2010.
UBS Investment Research’s latest Business Jet Market Index dropped to 39 from 41 in May. The index measures “total value” in a survey of 131 “U.S. domestic and international broker/dealers, manufacturers, fractional providers, financiers and others,” according to UBS. The majority, 63 percent, are brokers/dealers.
The survey doesn’t assess absolute business conditions but measures changes in respondents’ views. The index is near a four-year low, “and well below the 50 mark that is indicative of sequential improvement.”
Macquarie Group has sold Aviation Technical Services (ATS) to members of the current senior leadership team and a handful of experienced aerospace investors. The new ownership group is headed by current president and CEO, Matt Yerbic, and is backed by Wells Fargo, NewSpring Capital and Greenpoint Technologies of Kirkland, Wash.
In a filing in bankruptcy court just before Christmas, Hawker Beechcraft asked for court approval to shed two underfunded pension plans covering some 9,500 non-union workers and retirees. The request is part of an agreement with the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) and the OEM’s machinists’ union. Terms of the agreement require PBGC to assume responsibility for the two terminated pensions, while Hawker Beechcraft will keep the pension plan covering its 8,200 current and former union employees. A hearing to consider the plan is scheduled for January 17.
John (Rick) Haskins, one of the founding partners and former president and CEO of Jet Support Services (JSSI), died last week in Chicago at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer. He led the company, the first independent engine hourly-cost maintenance program provider, from its inception in 1989 until its 2008 sale to private equity firms R.H. Book and 1848 Capital Partners. Haskins then went on to found an investment firm that provides growth capital to aviation-related companies, and to lead a short-lived helicopter airport shuttle service.
Business aircraft trading has started to move more freely, but the fallout from the financial crisis continues to cast a shadow over the market, according to JetBrokers Europe. The UK-based group says brokers are having to work harder and be more inventive to get deals closed. And buyers are facing much closer scrutiny from lenders.
For the business aviation industry, the past year has been a trying one, to say
the least. Aircraft sales and usage declined steeply as the economic downturn tightened its grip, forcing operators to cope with the new financial realities, and in some cases with disparaging views of the industry.
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