A leader in helicopter aviation services

Bristow Group is one of the leading global providers of vertical flight solutions[1], primarily providing aviation services to a broad base of energy companies. In addition, Bristow provides commercial and public sector search and rescue (SAR) services in many countries, including the UK. 

In 2013, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) awarded Bristow the UK Search & Rescue helicopter contract (UKSARH), which had previously been operated by a combination of the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and HM Coastguard. Bristow’s UK SAR team, which operates from 10 bases across the country, flew a total of 2,747 missions in the year ending 31 March 2022, rescuing 1,608 people[2].

In June 2022, the MCA announced Bristow as the successful bidder for the 10-year, £1.6 billion second-generation (UKSAR2G) contract, beginning on 1 October 2024. UKSAR2G will embrace helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned air systems in a fully integrated national service primarily supporting His Majesty’s Coastguard but available to support other government departments such as the Police and NHS.

New term loan helps with refinancing and UKSAR2G contract obligations

Lombard North Central Plc, part of NatWest Group, supported Bristow in 2016 with a £161.5 million term loan facility to finance eight SAR helicopters for the UKSARH contract. In 2022, Bristow approached NatWest to structure and provide both a tailored financing package to refinance their existing Lombard facilities and additional financing to support the company’s capex obligations under the UKSAR2G contract.

Working closely with the Bristow team to understand their financing needs, NatWest agreed to a 13.25-year term loan facility of £137.7 million secured by ten search and rescue helicopters. The new facilities support Bristow’s continuation of this critical service, which has rescued nearly 5,000 people[2] since they began operating.

NatWest’s expertise in transportation financing strengthens SAR delivery

Chris Bradshaw, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bristow, commented: “We would like to thank NatWest for their continued support of Bristow. These new credit facilities increase our financial flexibility, significantly extend our debt maturities through 2036, and demonstrate our access to capital as the global leader in vertical flight solutions.”

Shaun Pickering, Specialist Asset Finance Aviation Lead at NatWest, added: “We’re delighted to have been able draw upon our strong specialist asset finance capabilities to support Bristow with this financing package, and through it actively contribute to the success of their SAR services in the UK.”


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