British International Helicopters (BIH) has been awarded an £18 million ($30 million) contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to provide helicopter support to the Falkland Island garrison, in the South Atlantic.

The contract is a boost to the Aberdeen, Scotland-based helicopter operator, which was hit badly in March when Shell Expro, its longstanding customer of 30 years, awarded a £175 million contract to rival operator Bristow Helicopters. "The Shell announcement was a knock-back for us, but now we have the spare [aircraft] capacity to go out and get more business." says BIH.

BIH, a subsidiary of Canadian Helicopter (CHC), will supply two Sikorsky S-61s on a five-year contract transporting passengers and cargo between locations in the east and west Falkland Islands.

Meanwhile, BIH may sell or lease several "excess" aircraft and is believed to be transferring two Eurocopter Super Pumas, which it acquired for the ill-fated Shell Expro contract, from its Aberdeen-base to other CHC operations around the globe.

Source: Flight International