North Sea helicopter operators Blueway Group and Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen are joining forces, creating a near-$300 million turnover business with a 59-strong rotorcraft fleet.

Although billed as a merger by the pair, it appears to be a takeover by Ostende, Belgium-headquartered NHV of its Norway-based counterpart.

According to the release announcing the deal, NHV will acquire the stakes in Blueway held by Reiten & Co Capital Partners (60.4%) and Helicopter Transportation Group (39.6%) for an undisclosed fee.

The two firms already co-operate and have a number of shared hangars in Norwich, UK and Den Helder, the Netherlands and a joint operation in the Ivory Coast.

Dancopter EC225

Airbus Helicopters

The combined company will focus on the oil and gas segment, and, says, Johnny Skoglund, chief executive of Blueway it will “give us more opportunities and capabilities”.

Presently the majority of both firms’ offshore operations are outside of the UK, but Skoglund says in future they will look to base aircraft in Aberdeen.

“One of our ambitions through the merger is to increase our competitive edge so we are able to be one of the top-tier players going forward.”

No decision has yet been taken on a name for the merged company, which already trades under a number of subsidiary brands including Denmark-located DanCopter and Norway’s Airlift.

EC175 NHV demo

Airbus Helicopters

The combined fleet will total 59 aircraft, with the majority medium- or intermediate-twins such as AgustaWestland AW139s and Airbus Helicopters EC155s, save for three EC225s operated by DanCopter.

In addition, the operators have firm commitments in place covering a further 19 helicopters, the vast bulk of these accounted for by the 16 EC175s ordered by NHV, for which it is launch customer. Its deliveries of the 7.5t type are due to commence later this year.

DanCopter also holds a letter of intent for a pair of EC175s, but Skoglund stresses it is too early to say if it will maintain its interest in the rotorcraft given the size of NHV’s order.