The Helicopter Company (THC) of Saudi Arabia placed an order for 16 more Leonardo AW139 medium twins, with an option for seven more, worth $300 million on the opening day of Heli-Expo 2022. Deliveries will begin later this year and extend over the next three years, with the new aircraft joining an existing THC fleet of seven AW139s.
Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) established THC as part of its strategy to activate new sectors in Saudi Arabia that support the realization of its “Vision 2030” campaign to diversify that country's economy away from oil and generate long-term commercial returns. THC is the kingdom’s first and only commercial helicopter operator and has been flying since mid-2019.
This latest helicopter purchase agreement is part of THC’s previously announced strategic alliances with regional partners, including the Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), the current developer of a massive regenerative tourism project that encompasses 11,000 square miles that includes an archipelago of more than 90 islands, desert, and volcanic mountains. Phase One of the project, with 3,000 hotel rooms, is expected to open this year.
The Leonardo order is the latest part of THC’s plan to build a substantial helicopter fleet to transport passengers throughout the massive project. Late last year, THC placed orders for 26 Airbus Helicopters—20 five-blade H145D3 light twins and six ACH160 medium twins—after previously signing an agreement to buy 10 single-engine H125s in August 2020.