India’s largest helicopter operator, Pawan Hans, is in a financial crisis and unable to pay employee salaries for April. The company reportedly sent a circular sent to employees on Thursday saying that the company is facing “an uncomfortable financial position”. It is also the time of year that salary levels are historically reviewed, according to the Pawan Hans Employees Union, who are encouraging workers to wear a black protest ribbon until the whole situation is sorted.
The document continued “The industry’s future is uncertain as many of our established businesses and our associated challenges are threatening future deployments. In terms of financial performance, the revenue has sharply declined in the financial year 2018-19 and the company has incurred a net loss to the tune going to Rs 89 crore (Currently US$12.7M, Ed.) during this financial year.”
It also stated, “Search trends were financially downturn as there was a serious mismatch that had been built up between the revenue income depending on the present business volume and the expenses, particularly on the staff cost. The situation has further turned critical as the outstanding amount lying with various customers has risen to alarming levels of over Rs 230 crores (Currently US$32.9M, Ed.) . Therefore, there is a need for complete transformation by adopting corrective measures in various areas of management.” The plan is that salaries will only be paid once 60% of this outstanding debtor balance has been paid by customers.
It is notable that the statement roundly points the blame at staff costs, when other aspects of costs (such as asset financing) are under close scrunity at other large operators around the world, particularly those dependant on offshore oil and gas production.
This situation also throws wide open the planned privatisation of the company, which is currently 51% directly owned by the Indian Government, and 49% by ONGC – the Oil & Natural Gas Corp, also owned by the Government. With only one interested party, the sale had been put on hold recently
The Pawan Hans fleet numbers one Airbus AS350B3, 15 older Airbus AS365N Dauphins, 13 newer Airbus AS365N3 Dauphins, two Bell 206L4 LongRangers, four Bell 407s and four Mil Mi-172s. The company is also involved in operating various helicopters owned by state governments.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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