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Weststar joins H&C to expand reach in Europe
Helicopter & Cooperation is a joint venture between two prominent aviation companies, Paris-based Avico Group and African-headquartered Westair Aviation. Westair Aviation Services in Asia has joined the company.
Westair offers scheduled passenger services under the FlyNamibia brand, as well as aircraft charter, air cargo, ACMI and medical evacuation services.
Read this story in our May 2023 printed issue.

Weststar Aviation Services, the largest offshore helicopter service provider in southeast Asia, has entered into a new strategic partnership with Helicopter & Cooperation SAS (H&C) to expand the global reach of its European affiliate, Weststar NDD Srl (WNDD). H&C is a joint venture between two prominent aviation companies, Paris-based Avico Group and African-headquartered Westair Aviation. Under the terms of the agreement, H&C will hold a controlling equity interest, while Weststar Aviation Services will continue as partner in Weststar NDD Srl's development with no changes to the management of WNDD and its EASA structure.

The partnership aims to broaden the range of services and strengthen Weststar NDD Srl's market position in Europe and Africa, with a focus on providing mission-critical services to WNDD's current and prospective clients in the oil and gas industry, search and rescue, and EMS sectors across these regions. With a strong emphasis on complying with local content regulations and delivering best-in-class aviation services, this partnership is well-positioned to capitalise on the significant growth opportunities in the industry and create new synergies with fixed-wing aircraft operations better to serve customer needs.

Avico Group has 26 years of experience in air transport services, including wet leases and charter flight brokerage, travel agency, ground handling, training and asset management services, through various companies and commercial brands. Operating in 11 countries across Europe, America and Africa, the Group has also established strong partnerships in the Middle East and Asia.

Westair Aviation has a long-standing history, having begun operations in Namibia in 1967 as an aircraft maintenance facility. With a large and diverse fleet of aircraft, Westair Aviation is a leading fixed-wing and rotary-wing aviation service provider operating across the African continent. Westair offers scheduled passenger services under the FlyNamibia brand, as well as aircraft charter, air cargo, ACMI and medical evacuation services, catering to the diverse needs of its customers.

“We are delighted to welcome H&C to WNDD. Is extensive experience in the aviation industry will be invaluable to the continued growth and success of WNDD. The partnership will also enable WNDD to strengthen its presence in the European and African offshore helicopter services market, which is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. We are optimistic that with Avico and Westair's established client base and access to exceptional growth prospects in these regions, we can capture a significant share of this growing market,” says Tan Sri Dr. Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, the founder and chairman of WASSB.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Weststar Aviation Services to expand WNDD's presence in Europe and Africa. At H&C SAS, we pride ourselves on delivering unparalleled services and exceeding our clients' expectations. We believe that our partnership will be a win-win for both parties, as we work together to unlock new opportunities and drive growth in the aviation sector. We are excited to embark on this journey, and we look forward to many years of successful collaboration with Weststar Aviation Services,” adds Gustav Holz, managing director of Westair Aviation.

“This new partnership we are creating with Weststar and Westair will bring a real added value to customers of our three groups: dedicated helicopter and airplane solutions can be deployed with the best safety and quality standards, thanks to the expertise and commitment of our joined teams,” states Mourad Majoul, the founder and chairman of Avico Group.

Weststar NDD Srl was formed in 2019 to undertake WASSB's business activities in Europe and Africa. WNDD flies now a fleet of nine Leonardo AW139, AW169 and AW189 helicopters as well as a team of skilled pilots and engineers to facilitate its activities in both regions. The organisation boasts an overall staff count of 104 members dedicated to its operations, mainly based in Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Gabon, Namibia and Mauritania for the moment.

The Weststar Group has also acquired the remaining 21 per cent stake in Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, a leading provider of offshore helicopter transportation services, from funds managed by global investment firm KKR, which had acquired a 40 per cent stake in Weststar Aviation back in 2013. With the completion of this transaction, Weststar Group becomes the sole shareholder of Weststar Aviation.

Under the leadership of Tan Sri Syed Azman Ibrahim, Weststar Aviation has grown from strength to strength. This includes expanding the company's helicopter fleet to 34, making it the largest helicopter operator in Malaysia and southeast Asia by fleet size. Weststar Aviation also entered into new markets such as Africa, Vietnam and the Middle East, and added new service areas in the public and sustainable energy sectors. It has maintained a 14-year accident-free track record since 2009.

Ibrahim says: “This is a milestone moment for all of us at Weststar. We are grateful for KKR's support over the years, during which Weststar Aviation expanded internationally serving bluechip energy clients and enhanced our capabilities.”

Commenting on the transaction, Henry Kravis, co-executive chairman, KKR, said “We take pride in our relationship with Weststar Aviation and Tan Sri Syed Azman Ibrahim, and our role in the evolution of the company, which is today very well-positioned for the future. On behalf of KKR, we wish the Weststar team continued success.”

Under the ownership of Weststar Group, Weststar Aviation is well-positioned for continued growth and expansion into new markets and verticals, including the public and sustainable energy sectors. For example, in 2022, the company supported the Royal Malaysian Air Force through, in a first-of-its-kind ‘Government Operated Contractor Owned and Maintained’ model, the deployment of four AW 139 Weststar Aviation helicopters and aviation professionals, delivering 90 per cent serviceability.