‘Why we want to diversify helicopter business’


                   Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe


A further boost for the helicopter segment of the aviation industry was last week recorded in Lagos. A new kid on the bloc,  Tropical Arctic Logistics Limited (TAL), made a daring entry into the segment, promising to revolutionalise the business by playing in the off-shore logistics section. With this, the firm hopes to diversify the business and and revolutionise the logistic value chain.

Part of the strategies to achieve its objective, according to the firm, is to put in place a template that combines effective equipment utilisation and deployment of indigenous expertise  to have a competitive edge.

TAL President and Chief Executive Officer, Emperor Chris Baywood Ibe, disclosed this last week in an interview with The Nation.

According to Ibe, the firm is set to invest over $150 million on  acquisiction of six AW139 Helicopters to enable it change the narratives of the business.

He said though the attrition rate of helicopter operators is not high in Nigeria, many operators are yet to understand the trick of the trade.

According to Ibe, TAL carried out a forensic study of why other operators were not doing well in the business before it ventured into the hugely capital intensive sector.

He said the firm has invested hugely in  human capital by attracting the best hands in the sector to drive the brand.

The growing interest in the offshore  segment, he said, is the motivation behind the huge investment, especially given the limited number of operators in the industry that is high capital intensive and technically demanding.

He said TAL has acquired the equipment: AW139, which it considered appropriate for the clients it looked forward to offer services other than in the oil and gas sector. They include excutive spot charter, banking industry, medical emergency evacuation and allied services as well as executive private aircraft charter.

He spoke of plans by TAL to commence scheduled domestic services to revolutionise the operational landscape.

Ibe said his desire to venture into domestic schedule operations was propelled by the lack of capacity of existing operators, which he accused of using the wrong business model.

He queried why  operators running domestic flights should utilise bigger aircraft instead of Embraear business jets, adding that the unsuitability of equipment is responsible for the collapse of many domestic carriers.

He said: “We did not rush into this business; we have done our business feasibility studies. In the last five years, we have carried out a study on why many airlines have failed and from the post mortem, we can say, the use of equipment, in terms of aircraft size and type is key.

“Why should a domestic operator use a Boeing 737 aircraft for a fifty minutes flight? This does not make any commercial sense, operators should consider using Embaear business jets, for its convenience, fuel economy and less crew utlisation. This is the reason we want to venture into domestic scheduled services.”

Speaking further, he said: “We are considering starting scheduled service operations. But we are going to use the right aircraft types and not B737 that airlines are using. It makes no sense operating B737 for 50 minute flight.”

Ibe said the firm will save huge money by ensuring that it carries out in-house maintenance of its aircraft with assistance from its technical partners.

He said the firm paid huge premium on safety and security because of its desire to venture into offshore helicopter logistic operations.

According to him,  the company’s operational safety policy for  onshore and offshore operations is one of the key attributes which will achieve tremendous resonance among stakeholders.

“This is one of the reasons why Tropical Arctic Logistics is poised to achieve incomparable heights in customer service standards,” he added.

Ibe noted that Tropical Arctic Logistics has benefitted tremendously from the unrivalled knowledge and experience of its human capital.

TAL, he said,  will carry out operations in accordance with the Nigerian Content Monitoring Development Board (NCMDB) policy to develop local capacity. “Indeed, apart from the technical support from our off-shore partners, Rose Aviation, based in the Republic of Ireland, TAL is a company by Nigerians and for Nigerians with international best practices.

”In line with our major focus on safety and efficiency, Tropical Arctic Logistics Limited  crew are certified Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) European Aviation Safety Agency ( EASA ) trained personnel in alignment with the industry and country of operation regulatory requirements,”he said.

The firm, Ibe said, will   continue to  evaluate the business dynamics and monitor the relevant sectoral indices in order to achieve optimal growth and profitability.

“However, we wish to assure all stakeholders that this is just the beginning of even better and greater accomplishments for the company.  The management and staff are passionately committed to implementing the transformational agenda as envisioned by the board of directors in achieving unparalleled safety records.

“We have, therefore, positioned our company for leadership in this sector, an unparalleled feat for a company founded just five years ago. We are poised to pursue the local content policy by ensuring we carry out in house maintenance of our equipment.

“This is achievable because our aircraft pilots and engineers have the competence to achieve this feat. We have learnt from the mistakes of other operators, and have carried out a comprehensive business plan  to guide us. We will take relevant steps to mitigate such trend,” he said.

On diversifying into offshore helicopter operations, Ibe said: “We have looked around and could see that the future of this business is in the offshore segment of oil and gas. Though, it is technically driven, we are convinced we have the right skills set to drive the business whether it is deep water oil pipelines, marine vessels and allied services.”


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