France-based rotary operator SAF Helicopteres has acquired South Africa's Starlite Aviation Group and formed global aviation group SAF Aerogroup, whose main shareholders are Oaktree Capital Management and BPI France.
The new group of 500 employees manages eight maintenance bases, two training centres, five flight simulators and operates a fleet of 78 mission aircraft for medevac operations, EMS, light and heavy lift work and VIP transport. In addition, the pilot training fleet consists of 40 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, including three twin turboprops.
SAF Aerogroup operates in France, Ireland, Belgium, South Africa, Mali and Niger with a consolidated turnover of $100 million. Within three years, the company hopes to create an additional 100 to 300 jobs and achieve a turnover of $150 million.
The acquisition opens up market opportunities for SAF Aerogroup geographically and expands its areas of expertise. Starlite is a multi-faceted aviation group of companies offering helicopter and fixed wing aircraft for challenging missions in austere environments and a well-established manned and UAV pilot training academy, supported by numerous dedicated maintenance divisions across Africa. It has maintained a strong presence and long history rooted in Africa, providing 24/7 mission ready helicopter and fixed wing aircraft for complex assignments for medical emergency services, and rescue and relief.
SAF Aerogroup believes itself perfectly positioned globally for increased growth and development prospects in complex flight operations and the equally crucial fields of training and maintenance. The amalgamation enables SAF to strengthen and develop its partnerships with the French and other governments.
“This acquisition is a very important step in SAF's history and will allow us to strengthen our expertise and growth prospects considerably, with increased diversification and a wider market," says SAF Aerogroup CEO Tristan Serretta. "Our ambition is to become a global player in airborne services, and this acquisition takes us one step further in that direction. We share with Starlite Aviation strong values of safety, respect for commitments, people and solidarity. Our common culture aimed at excellence will significantly facilitate the integration of Starlite Aviation's teams."
Starlite Aviation’s brand will remain unchanged. CEO Gareth Schnehage adds: "We are delighted to be joining the SAF Aerogroup; it will enable us to develop our business and find new synergies. Ultimately, it is our customers and employees who will benefit from this merger. It is also excellent news for our business sector and for our partners."