Offshore heavy and super-medium helicopter activity has bounced back to pre-Covid levels, making an overall 5 percent gain year-to-date, according to consultancy Air & Sea Analytics. “The uplift in active aircraft is not surprising given high oil prices and double-digit growth in upstream expenditure,” said company director Steve Robertson.
“Of particular interest is the underlying intensity of activity in returning aircraft to service,” he added. “Aircraft that a year ago no one would have expected to return to the active fleet are now flying again. It’s only a matter of time before scarcity of available aircraft and parts drives up pricing significantly.”
The firm reported there were still 41 inactive Sikorsky S-92s in the first quarter but noted the pool of “available” S-92s had since shrunk to less than two dozen. Meanwhile, the market for super-mediums such as the Leonardo AW189 and Airbus H175 is reported as “near full effective utilization,” with flight activity for those types up 50 percent.
Air & Sea concluded that the overhang and excess capacity triggered by the 2016 and 2019 bankruptcies of leading offshore operators is largely a thing of the past. “We no longer have a large number of inactive assets owned by banks; these have been moved on into the hands of operators and lessors that can put them to work,” the firm said.