by Peter Shaw-Smith
Mar 4, 2023 – 4:00 PM
As a company with a global focus, UAE-based helicopter and business jet charter and management operator Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA, Booth C4436) is exhibiting at Heli-Expo for the first time and intends to increase its reach on continents both north and south with the help of its attendance at HAI Heli-Expo.
“We have done business in Canada; we recently sold six aging Bell 212s there,” Mark Pierotti, director of ADA’s commercial department and managing director of consultancy, ADA Millennium, told AIN. “We’ve had business in Canada in the past and we are trying to break into the Brazilian market, which we see as interesting. South America also is an important territory where we are looking at tenders. Guyana has had a massive oil find. We did look at Guyana, but decided not to enter at this time.”
ADA provides aviation offshore oil support and other services worldwide and, in particular, for the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas production companies. It also provides VVIP passenger transportation services, search and rescue in the UAE, crop spraying, seismic support, firefighting in Europe, and third-party maintenance support in the Middle East.
As of the end of January, fleet size stood at about 60 owned aircraft. Two De Havilland Dash 8-200s will leave the fleet soon, while it expects a brace of AW139s to arrive in the second quarter of 2023. ADA has leased two Dash 8-200s to two Kenyan operators, leaving three Dash 8-300s and two -400s in the fleet.
“Abu Dhabi National Oil Company [ADNOC] remains ADA’s primary customer, while the UAE is ADA’s primary territory,” Pierotti said. “Oil and gas is core, but ad hoc charter, helicopter emergency medical services [HEMS], and firefighting are increasingly important. We also manage many aircraft for VIPs.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council also ranks as a vital market for ADA, especially Saudi Arabia. All of a sudden, the helicopter market has exploded there in the last two years with the advent of The Helicopter Company. Sight-seeing concern, Helicopter Tour Dubai, Abu Dhabi’s Falcon Aviation, ground services provider Air Chateau, and Dubai Air Wing all have become prominent players in the UAE rotorcraft market.
“We are breaking into Southeast Asia in a big way, with existing and new customers,” he said. “We are continuing our African expansion: Nigeria remains really important, as does Angola. Our MRO arm in Abu Dhabi is growing fast, and growing MRO in 2023 is a key part of our business plan.”
ADA has ongoing firefighting operations in Spain and is assessing a new opportunity in Greece. The increasing stringency of operating requirements in the offshore oil and gas sector means that ADA’s Bell fleet is becoming outdated. Pierotti said he hasn’t decided whether the Bell 212s have a future in firefighting or if Bell 412s will replace them. “I’ll find that out when I’m in America in March,” he noted. “There are age restrictions in many countries now,” he said. “India has put 20-year age restrictions in place. Aircraft that are approaching 20 years or older have a limited market. That’s why they are being allocated to firefighting, as they’re fantastically serviceable and powerful aircraft. The higher standards of oil and gas and the age restrictions in some countries mean that the Bell 412s don’t qualify.”
ADA is a growing rotorcraft MRO in the MENA region and it has added Airbus Helicopter maintenance to its approvals. “Our joint venture with Leonardo in AgustaWestland Aviation Services creates an excellent capability on the Leonardo rotary wing products,” he said. “As well as holding Leonardo and Bell MRO approvals, we have developed an Airbus capability as well.”
Commenting on the need for ground infrastructure to meet the region’s growing helicopter needs and the eventual introduction of urban air mobility in the region, Pierotti said ADA’s presence in Abu Dhabi is key.
“Abu Dhabi is our base,” he said. “Abu Dhabi is our home and we want to grow there. ADNOC is a massive part of our business strategy. They’re our primary customer. We listen to the market in Abu Dhabi. What they need, we’ll build.”
Pierotti believes this year will prove reflective as the company analyzes the fleet in detail and ensures its position as a modern and capable provider of aviation services. “ADA Millennium has carved itself a great reputation in the advisory training space with projects worldwide,” he said.
He added that ADA takes its sustainability responsibilities very seriously and works with manufacturer Leonardo toward more sustainable solutions.