Humberside Airport owner files for bankruptcy in US

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 13 May 2019

The owner of Humberside Airport and Eastern Airways, helicopter giant Bristow Group, has started bankruptcy proceedings in the US.

UK assets, which include the provision of coastguard search and rescue nationwide, as well as the extensive Kirmington operations, are excluded from the voluntary Chapter 11 proceedings.  

It has stressed it will continue to provide safe, reliable and professional services to clients, with financial support from company backers underlined. 

Don Miller, president and chief executive, said: “After working diligently with our advisors on a thorough review of strategic financial alternatives, the board of directors and management concluded that the best path forward for Bristow and its stakeholders is to seek Chapter 11 protection. 

“This process will allow us to strengthen our balance sheet, achieve a lower and more sustainable debt level and emerge as a stronger company. We have the support of the overwhelming majority of our parent company senior secured noteholders, with whom we have entered into a restructuring support agreement that will help to de-lever our balance sheet, and we are actively working with other important stakeholders as we enter this process.” 

Read more: Eastern faces a battle in the skies to serve key oil routes

Huge issues compounded a downturn in the global oil and gas market, with the company found to be in breach of leases after helicopters and their engines were interchanged.  Such was the extent of the problem, it was unable to file its fourth quarter results from 2018, and still hasn’t, which led to it being in breach of NYSE rules. The share price then bottomed out, putting it in further breach of Wall Street regulations. 

Mr Miller said: “Bristow remains steadfast in its commitment to safety and providing exceptional client service during the Chapter 11 process. For clients, it is business as usual at Bristow, and our talented team will stay focused on delivering safe, reliable and professional services around the globe throughout the process and beyond. We expect to execute a prompt and efficient reorganisation, and to emerge from this restructuring process as a stronger company that is an even better business partner, employer and trusted service provider. 

“We deeply appreciate the hard work of our dedicated employees and their commitment to each other, our valued clients and our passengers. We are also grateful for the many years of support by our suppliers and business partners, and we look forward to continuing to work with them as we move through this process and beyond.”

All of Bristow’s businesses are operating in the ordinary course and are anticipated to continue to do so for the duration of the Chapter 11 process. The Chapter 11 filings, with the Southern District of Texas, pertain to certain of Bristow’s legal entities in the US and two of its Cayman Islands subsidiaries.

Bristow’s other non-US entities, including those holding Bristow’s non-US air operating certificates, are not included in the Chapter 11 filings.

In addition to executing the restructuring support agreement, certain senior secured noteholders made a $75 million term loan to the company ahead of the court filing, and provided a commitment for a further $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing that would be available upon court approval. The financing package provides Bristow with capital that enables the company to fund its global operations.

Eastern Airways and Humberside Airport operate with their own management structures, and do not comment on parent company performance, but have been approached. It is understood future options have been discussed at board level for the two businesses, which are described as operationally sound, operating as standalone subsidiaries.

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