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Customer service key to success of smaller operator, says Bel Air
Offshore operations may be dominated by some of the world's largest helicopter operators, but there is still room for customer-focused smaller companies to thrive.

Offshore operations may be dominated by some of the world's largest helicopter operators, but there is still room for customer-focused smaller companies to thrive. So says managing director of Denmark's Bel Air Aviation, Susanne Lastein.

Bel Air has recently taken delivery of a second AgustaWestland AW139, and is already looking forward to the arrival of its first AW189 during next year. "We bought the AW189 helicopters because we trust in this product," says Lastein. "It is about 25 per cent bigger than our AW139, it's the AgustaWestland family, it fulfills the latest certification demands, and as with all other AW products the very important performance class 1 will be fulfilled on this big helicopter.

"The helicopter is not as big as the EC225 and S92, but the expectation is that it will be cheaper to buy and to operate. Our cooperation with AgustaWestland really means a big difference – we get the operation above 99 per cent reliability on the 139s. We expect to see the first AW189 in late 2013."

Lastein is very satisfied with her experience of the AW139. "We took delivery (of the second one) in Italy on March 30th and the same day we were flying back to Denmark. The helicopter entered into service on March 31st. From late 2010 until 2012 we leased two AW139s, one from CHC and one from Bristow."

Delivered in 2009, the first helicopter is reported to have performed exceptionally well, logging over 12,000 landings in offshore operations so far. Bel Air is also the official AgustaWestland service centre for the AW139 in Denmark, and has another two AW139s on order of which it expects to take delivery late this year and early next year.

"I am convinced that there is space for a few small operators in the market," she adds. "We, in a very safe and positive way, with a team dedicated to the operation, take care that our customers get a second-to-none service. Our focus is on the customer – to perform a service, exactly the way they like to run their operation. I am so proud of our team; if it can be done, they will do it."

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