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CHC is the world's largest provider of helicopter services to the global offshore oil and gas industry. (CHC)
CHC is the world's largest provider of helicopter services to the global offshore oil and gas industry. (CHC)

Canadian Helicopters to pursue more overseas work Add to ...

Canadian Helicopters Group Inc. expects to build on its experience in Afghanistan and bid on other overseas opportunities with the U.S. military as the company continues to diversify its revenue stream.

Chief executive Don Wall said Wednesday that the company has "provided quotes" on work opportunities in countries in the Afghanistan region, but not in Libya where coalition forces have launched air strikes in an attempt to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"Given the feedback that Canadian Helicopters has received on Afghanistan, we believe we will be invited to bid on any overseas opportunities that may arise with the U.S. military," Mr. Wall said during a conference call a day after the company posted a fourth-quarter profit of $4.4-million.

"We are being made aware of opportunities and have provided quotes outside of Afghanistan, not Libya certainly at this point, but certainly other countries in the Afghan region," he told analysts.

Much of the Middle East has seen uprisings and civil strife in recent months.

Mr. Wall said Canadian Helicopters has been active in Afghanistan since early 2009, providing services to support the U.S. military and the effort is expected to bring total revenues of more than $360-million (U.S.) to the Montreal company.

"The revenue from our work in Afghanistan has compensated for lingering weakness in our domestic marketplace, which was impacted throughout the year by volume reduction and pricing pressures," he said of 2010.

The contracts involve carrying supplies and passengers to forward military operating locations in war-torn Afghanistan and Mr. Wall said Canadian Helicopters will be there for reconstruction efforts.

"On a post-war basis, we are already working on deployment of aircraft in support of the reconstruction effort that we anticipate."

The company currently has 11 aircraft under contract in Afghanistan.

Mr. Wall said Canadian Helicopters pursued a diversification strategy in 2010 and will continue to seek out other markets for business opportunities.

In its fourth-quarter financial results released late Tuesday, the company said it earned 33 cents a share, up from $2.7-million (Canadian), or 20 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

The company saw revenues of $43-million compared to $31.4-million in the year-earlier period, primarily due to contracted work in Afghanistan.

Revenue was slightly offset by a decrease in customer activity in the oil and gas industry.

The company also said it's optimistic about domestic operations in Canada as many economic indicators turn positive, but Mr. Wall noted the recovery in the oil and gas industry is ongoing.

"The number of missions flown by our aircraft in Canada in 2010 has not returned to pre-recession levels."

A recent decision by Ontario's medical services agency not to exercise its option to extend a contract beyond the end date in 2012 will be used "as an opportunity to pursue other markets," Mr. Wall said.

Canadian Helicopters Group Inc. has over 35 base locations across Canada and provides helicopter services to sectors including infrastructure maintenance, utilities, oil and gas, mining, forestry, construction, and emergency medical services.

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