UTair Aviation took delivery of the first of its H175s earlier this year, but plans for the remainder of the aircraft are currently uncertain. Anthony Pecchi Photo
UTair Aviation, one of Russia’s leading airlines, has confirmed it is “conducting talks” with Airbus Helicopters about the postponement of deliveries of the 15 H175s it has on order, but denied the contract for the aircraft has been cancelled.
Alexey Vinogradov, president of UTair Aviation, told Vertical the new helicopters were originally intended to serve offshore operations for leading Russian oil and gas producers and their foreign partners. However, the recent decline of global oil prices, combined with the effect of Western sanctions against the Russian government, have caused the majority of offshore projects in Russia, including those on the Russian Arctic shelf, to be suspended.
“We promptly respond to changes in market demand for helicopter services, so do not currently want to expand our fleet [with] new helicopters,” said Vinogradov. The operator took delivery of the first of its H175s earlier this year, but while the plans for the remainder are currently uncertain, Vinogradov said he expected the operator to reach an agreement with Airbus Helicopters before the end of 2015.
At the presentation of Airbus Helicopters’ 2014 company results in Paris, France, in January, the manufacturer’s president and CEO, Guillaume Faury, said the uncertain situation in Russia was one of two hurdles facing the H175 — the other being the drop in global oil prices.
However, Airbus Helicopters is not the only manufacturer to feel the effect of Utair’s revised plans for fleet growth, as the operator has also suspended the implementation of a contract with Russian Helicopters for 40 Mi-171s. The contract, which had been signed in 2011, called for the Mi-171s to be delivered in 2016 and 2017.