Berjaya Air targets Airbus ACH160 choppers to be in service in 2024

This is to address the needs of utility aircraft transportation services for offshore, commercial, public services 

By NUR HANANI AZMAN / Pic Source airbuscorporatehelicopters.com

BERJAYA Air Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand), is expecting delivery of Airbus H175 helicopter in the fourth quarter this year and targets to have the Airbus ACH160 helicopter to be available for service in 2024. 

BLand CEO Syed Ali Shahul Hameed said the purchase of the two Airbus helicopters is part of Berjaya Air’s expansion plan to create a new business segment — providing private helicopter charter services. 

“This is to address the needs of utility aircraft transportation services for offshore, commercial, public services and the growing demand for luxury business and private travel nationwide,” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently. 

Berjaya Air’s move into the helicopter charter business began in December last year following its deal to purchase the ACH160 and H175 helicopters from Airbus Helicopters Inc. 

With the order, Berjaya Air becomes Malaysia’s launch customer for the ACH160 as well as be the first in the world to operate the exclusive 10-seat VIP version of the ultra-modern corporate helicopter. 

The Airbus ACH160 is the premium version of the new H160 helicopter certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency while the Airbus H175 belongs to the super-medium class of helicopters, combining long range with smooth flight qualities. 

An online price check reveals the ACH160’s price ranges from US$1 million to US$6 million (RM25.11 million) and the H175 helicopters can cost up to US$17 million depending on the specs. 

In 2021, Berjaya Air recorded an average 50% load factor and carried about 2,300 passengers in total on 130 flights on its single ATR 42-500 plane and despite the six-month interstate travel restrictions. 

With few domestic travel restrictions in place now, Berjaya Air is expecting demand in 2022 to grow and its average load factor to hit 75%. 

Syed Ali also welcomes the move by the government to allow cross-border travel to help revive the country’s tourism industry that has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic-induced movement restrictions. 

“We remain hopeful the industry will continue to make progress, particularly as the government considers reopening mutual borders with several countries as domestic tourism alone would not be sufficient for a full recovery. 

“Malaysia is blessed with pristine beaches and stunning islands, so I hope more Malaysians will take this opportunity to discover the beauty of our island destinations such as Langkawi, Redang and Tioman,” he said. 

Berjaya Air is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the local aviation and tourism industry with 2022 expected to be a recovery year. 

With well over 97.8% of Malaysia’s adult population completing their Covid-19 vaccination so amid the ongoing administering of 

booster shots to ward against the new Covid-19 variant, the industry can look forward to an uptrend in domestic leisure demand, said Syed Ali. 

He said despite concerns about the Omicron variant, people’s mobility and traffic indicators have been showing signs of revival and BLand expects any new restrictions will be temporary measures. 

“Most importantly, we as tourism industry players must play our part to prevent further spread of the virus. All our passengers are required to strictly-adhered to standard operating procedures (SOPs) set forth by the Ministry of Health at all times. 

“We ensure all our frontliners carry out self-test frequently including administrative employees within Berjaya Air. We diligently disinfect and sanitise our aircraft after flights and offices to ensure a safe environment for all our guests and employees,” he added.

Syed Ali said Malaysia needs to take into consideration the entire international travel landscape as domestic demand will eventually slow down if international borders remain closed. 

“Therefore, reopening borders for international tourists in stages is very vital for the whole industry’s long-term recovery. After almost two years of international travel restrictions and rounds of lockdowns, all our hotels and resorts have adapted well to the unforeseen changes and SOPs in the new norm. 

“As an international hospitality group, we are continuously embracing new technologies and new business models that enhance hygiene, promote social distancing and provide our guests with personalised experience. We are definitely ready and look forward to welcoming international travellers again,” he said. 

As a licensed charter flight operator, Berjaya Air offers the flexibility of service routes especially from Subang Airport to Redang Island. 

“We offer the flexibility of time and flying routes for our clients to any destinations within Peninsular Malaysia via our charter service. A Singapore route is definitely in the pipeline as soon as international travel is lifted,” he added. 

Berjaya Air was established in 1989 as part of Berjaya Group with scheduled flights to and from Subang Skypark Terminal, formerly known as the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Selangor.