Eastern Airways has secured a major new contract with BP to lay on oil flights between Aberdeen and Sumburgh that promises to bring new jobs to Shetland.
The plan is to then fly rig workers offshore by helicopter from Sumburgh rather than direct from Aberdeen.
The BP contract follows the announcement on Friday that Bristow Helicopters, which operates oil-rig helicopter flights from Sumburgh, are to buy a 60 per cent stake in Eastern Airways.
The move formalises a 15-year relationship between the two companies which run complementary operations, as Eastern Airways is the UK’s leading provider of fixed wing air services to the offshore oil and gas industry.
A spokesman for Bristow Helicopters said: “The investment is a natural outcome of the history of the two businesses working together”.
The BP contract award is for a six year period starting in June, with an option for BP to extend the £30 million deal. Up to 25 new jobs will be created in Shetland and Aberdeen to support the operation which will transport workers for BP’s west of Shetland operations. The jobs will consist of a mixture of flying crew and ground staff with some of the ground staff based at Sumburgh Airport.
Two aircraft from Eastern Airway’s Jetstream 41 fleet based in Aberdeen will initially operate the services and will then move to the company’s larger Saab 2000.
Eastern Airways managing director Paul Alcock said: “This is a major contract for us to have been awarded. We look forward to providing essential transport services to support BP’s significant investment programme in the Shetlands (sic). This is a further addition to an important part of our business, as we already operate services for the Integrated Aviation Consortium (IAC) between Aberdeen and Scatsta.”
BP UK logistics infrastructure manager Mark Hardie added: “The west of Shetland area is an important part of BP’s future in the North Sea, and I’m pleased we are able to create new jobs in Aberdeen and Shetland through this contract award. We look forward to working with Eastern Airways in the coming years to provide a safe and reliable service to transport personnel to and from Shetland in support of our current and future operations.”
Eastern Airways already operates more flights from Aberdeen than any other carrier, with a network of 11 scheduled routes spanning the length and breadth of the UK. It has a fleet of 30 regional aircraft operating from 20 airports in the UK, Norway and France.
According to Bristow Helicopters both companies have strong safety systems and share the same ethos.
Bristow Helicopters Limited managing director Mike Imlach said: “Bristow and Eastern Airways serve many of the same customers. Our business portfolios are highly complementary in terms of service offerings and geographic footprint. Through this investment, we can leverage our respective strengths to create a seamless experience for passengers travelling to offshore locations.
“The Bristow brand will benefit from alignment with a known and valued fixed wing operator. Together we will be able to capitalise on the respective strengths of both organisations, offer a broader range of services, pursue growth opportunities in new markets and geographies, invest in markets where we are currently well-positioned and become even stronger in these areas.”