x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi Aviation flying high with helicopters

Business from oil firms, medical emergencies and VIPs helped Abu Dhabi Aviation's profits soar by 22 per cent last year.

Abu Dhabi Aviation, the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East, posted a 22 per cent rise in its annual profits last year as oil companies, medical emergencies and VIPs kept its aircraft aloft.

Its wide geographic reach from Abu Dhabi to Papua New Guinea also helped the operator manage the global downturn, said Ashraf Fahmy, the chief financial officer of Abu Dhabi Aviation.

It netted a profit of Dh280 million (US$76.2m) last year, up from Dh230m the year before.

The firm's shares closed higher at Dh3.31 on the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange General Index yesterday.

"We have sustained our growth and have not been affected severely by the downturn in the economy," he said. "Our diversification by sector and geography has helped us to ride the downturn."

Abu Dhabi Aviation's results included the contributions of Royal Jet, a business jet operator in which it owns a 50 per cent stake, and Maximus Air Cargo, its 95 per cent-owned freight operator in Abu Dhabi. Royal Jet performed better through increased flying hours after successfully completing a restructuring last year. A sale of aircraft used by Maximus also helped to boost figures.

Other than operating a small number of flights for passengers leaving Egypt, Abu Dhabi Aviation gained little from the Arab Spring, he said. Instead, appetite remained strong from its core business of transporting staff working for offshore oil firms, he said. Other activity included medical evacuations and its aircraft in Spain helping to fight fires.

The firm also operates in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi Aviation is 30 per cent-owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, with shares in the remaining 70 per cent of the company held by UAE nationals.

This year, the company hopes to begin operations on its joint venture with Mubadala Aerospace, part of Mubadala Development, to set up an advanced flight training facility in the emirate. The partnership with Mubadala's subsidiary Horizon Flight Academy will cater to global commercial and defence customers.

Mubadala Development is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

tarnold@thenational.ae

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