Thursday, September 18, 2014
The State of the Industry: Q&A with Bristow CEO
Rotor & Wing spoke with Bristow Group CEO Jonathan Baliff about the state of the industry and of Bristow Group. Here is a small taste of what to expect. See the full interview in Rotor & Wing's Helitech International Show Daily, or watch for it via email at the end of the show.
Rotor & Wing: What are the main changes you've seen in the past four years in the helicopter industry?
Jonathan Baliff: I think there have been three major changes. First of all, the last four years have probably seen faster growth in the offshore helicopter industry than at any other time in the history of the business. We started four or five years ago with approximately a $1 billion asset base, and today we’re almost at $3.5 billion of assets. So that growth has been very critical to both the industry and our own company.
The second change is the closer and much higher level of integration with our clients. Our clients are getting more discriminating on service, and safety is critical to the service we provide to our clients – our growth has really been an outcome of that. I will say that the industry over the last four years has been a safe industry. Yes, there have been issues, but if you really look at the improvement in ground safety and the number of air incidents, we are seeing a better trend. This doesn’t mean we are happy with where we are as an industry. There have been the high-profile accidents that have involved loss of life, which has been a tragedy for passengers, their families and crew members alike. The industry will have a much more integrated approach as we focus on safety with our clients and there’s a lot more scrutiny of operators regarding safety because we’re mostly flying larger helicopters farther offshore.
Finally, there is a greater focus on financial strength. Operators obviously have to be physically safe, and they have to show capability of being a reliable operator and, as part of that reliability, attention must be paid to the financial safety of a company. Operators of our scale are maturing to being companies that are not just FTSE 500 but maybe FTSE 100 in the future, and we need to behave in a way that demonstrates financial prudency. This is becoming a very important consideration for our clients, whether they are involved with oil and gas or in the case of government clients who outsource, for example UK Search and Rescue.
Rotor & Wing: What do you see as your top priorities going forward?
Baliff: I’m humbled and honored to be the CEO following the great legacy set by Bill Chiles during his tenure and to continue his management impact. The four “C’s” describe our way forward; the first C stands for Clients. We need to be even more client-focused as a company and in my role as CEO – not just for our clients’ current needs but also for their future strategic needs. These are some of the largest corporations in the world with tremendous global reach and impact on the economy. It’s not just about the oil; it’s also about the jobs and the employment that they provide. It’s about new energy sources whether further offshore or in inaccessible areas where you need vertical lift to transport people safely. There is no doubt that clients are a huge focus, especially their strategic needs, and this is an endeavor I can provide not only for Bristow but also as an industry leader.