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Bristow Helicopters Australia Acquires Controlling Interest In Airnorth

February 05, 2015

  • Acquires 85-percent controlling interest
  • Enhances Bristow’s ability to offer integrated passenger solutions for clients in Australia and Southeast Asia

HOUSTON, February 5, 2015 – Bristow Helicopters Australia Pty Ltd., today announced that it has acquired an 85-percent interest in Airnorth, the largest regional airline operating across Northern Australia.

“Airnorth is an exceptional operator, and our companies are culturally and operationally aligned putting our clients first, with shared core values of safety, teamwork and excellence,” said Jonathan E. Baliff, president and chief executive officer of Bristow Group Inc. “This investment strengthens our ability to provide a complete suite of point-to-point transportation services for existing Australian-based passengers and create more integrated, logistics solutions for our global clients.”

Airnorth will retain its name and brand identity and will continue to operate under the direction of Michael Bridge, Airnorth’s chief executive officer. Bridge will remain on the Airnorth board of directors. Bristow will have three representatives on the board.

“Our new partnership with Bristow Australia will see further expansion for the company and its services to charter clients,” said Michael Bridge, Airnorth chief executive officer. “Airnorth will continue to operate all scheduled passenger services across its current route network without interruption to existing passenger bookings.

“We are very proud to be Australia’s second oldest airline and this is an exciting time of growth for Airnorth, our staff and customers. All Airnorth staff will be retained in this acquisition and we anticipate a seamless transition into Bristow. Airnorth and Bristow have previously worked closely together in the provision of integrated air services to existing clients and are united in our commitment to safety and superior service to our customers,” Bridge added.

The acquisition of Airnorth enables Bristow Australia to extend its existing operations beyond rotory wing to include fixed wing, enhancing the company’s service to clients as an integrated aviation provider. The partnership expands Bristow’s existing oil and gas client base for new business in Southeast Asia, and gains new client segments, including business and leisure passengers traveling to regional and remote communities and resource industry workers.

“Many of our global clients are requesting a fully integrated passenger service, including travel services, as they seek to refocus on their core business,” said Allan Blake, director of Bristow’s Australia Business Unit. “Recent tenders in Australia have requested fixed-wing services, including arranging travel through Bristow Travel (Australia). The potential exists to reduce client costs associated with travel, accommodation and passenger logistics, by providing fixed-wing plus helicopter solutions to our oil and gas clients.”

Bristow currently provides fixed-wing services through its affiliates Eastern Airways in the United Kingdom and Líder Aviação in Brazil, and through its business unit in Nigeria.

As the largest regional airline operating in Northern Australia, Airnorth’s fixed-wing operations are based in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, and include both scheduled and charter services, which focus primarily on the energy and mining industries in northern and western Australia, and international service to Timor-Leste and the Philippines. The airline’s fleet consists of thirteen aircraft, nine turboprop and four new technology regional jets, and its customer base includes many energy companies to which Bristow already provides helicopter service. Its headquarters will remain in Darwin. Airnorth provides the bulk of flying to many remote oil and gas and indigenous tribal areas and is the only Darwin/Northern Territory-based Qantas code-share partner. Through its partnership with Qantas Airways, Airnorth offers seamless connectivity including check in and interline baggage facilities. Passengers may also earn and redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points on Airnorth scheduled services.

About Bristow Helicopters Australia
Bristow began operations in Australia in 1967 and is now the largest provider of helicopter services to the oil and gas industry in Australia. Headquartered in Perth, with a fleet of 31 helicopters and more than 500 employees, Bristow supports oil and gas exploration and production from bases at Darwin, Truscott, Broome, Karratha, Barrow Island, Exmouth, Varanus Island, Essendon, Tooradin and Warrnambool, and soon from Ceduna in the Great Australian Bight in South Australia. The company also provides airport management services on Barrow Island, maintenance and logistics support for the Republic of Singapore Air Force at Oakey, and operates Bristow Travel (Australia), a fully accredited travel agency. Bristow Helicopters Australia is an affiliate of Bristow Group Inc., the leading provider of helicopter services to the worldwide offshore energy industry. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bristowgroup.com.

About Airnorth
Established in 1978 and with its hub based in Darwin, Airnorth is now the premier airline based in Northern Australia and carries in excess of 350,000 passengers annually. Airnorth is a full service carrier accommodating the needs of both business and leisure travellers, operating state-of-art regional jets through its interstate and international network and providing passengers with complimentary catering and a free baggage allowance. The airline serves more than 20 destinations across three countries, including domestic services across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland and internationally to Timor-Leste and the Philippines. In addition to scheduled departures, Airnorth operates contract and ad-hoc charter services for a wide variety of companies undertaking oil & gas, mining, defense and government activity. For more information, visit the company's website at www.airnorth.com.au/.

For media inquiries from the U.S., contact:
Julie King, Bristow Group Global Communications
Phone: +1-832-783-7927 | Mobile: +1-832-551-9814
E-mail: julie.king@bristowgroup.com

For media inquiries from Australia, contact:
Tammy Baczynski, Airnorth
Phone: +61 8 8920 4058 | Mobile: 0439 234 058
E-mail: tammy.baczynski@airnorth.com.au

Marie Mills, Mills Wilson, Bristow Australia
Phone: +61 8 9421 3600 | Mobile: 0418 918 202
E-mail: mariem@millswilson.com.au

For investor inquiries, contact:
Linda McNeill, Bristow Group
Phone: +1-713-267-7622 | Mobile: +1-281-610-0558
E-mail: linda.mcneill@bristowgroup.com