Nearly $2 Billion in Debt, Bristow Files Bankruptcy

 - May 11, 2019, 1:03 PM

In a move widely anticipated for months, if not years, helicopter services company Bristow Group announced Saturday morning that it entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the Southern District of Texas, claiming debts of $1.885 billion against assets of $2.86 billion and citing “previously disclosed financial challenges” and “constrained liquidity.”  

Bristow CEO L. Don Miller called bankruptcy, “the best path forward for Bristow and its stakeholders.” The company said it was seeking bankruptcy protection to “restructure and strengthen its balance sheet and achieve a more sustainable debt profile” and that it would continue normal operations during its restructuring. 

The bankruptcy filings pertain to Bristow entities in the U.S. and the Cayman Islands and not its other non-U.S entities. The entities covered under the filings include Bristow Group, BHNA Holdings, Bristow Alaska, Bristow Helicopters, Bristow U.S. Leasing, Bristow U.S., BriLog Leasing, and Bristow Equipment Leasing.

Primary creditors listed include the company’s senior note holders, which are owed $895.25 million, various banks and financial institutions owed $580 million, and the GECAS helicopter leasing unit Milestone Aviation Group, owed $21.9 million.

Bristow said it will continue normal operations with the assistance of a $75 million loan from unnamed senior secure noteholders plus another $75 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing from those noteholders upon court approval. As of last year Bristow operated 318 helicopters and 78 fixed-wing aircraft and had 4,000 employees worldwide. Bristow has not filed any official financial results in calendar 2019 nor in the fourth quarter of calendar 2018. The company derives more than 70 percent of its revenues from the offshore oil-and-gas market and joins of growing list of helicopter-related companies serving it that have filed bankruptcy in recent times including CHC, PHI, and leasing company Waypoint.