HOUSTON - Bristow Helicopters Australia Pty Ltd., today announced that it has acquired an 85 percent interest in Airnorth, the largest regional airline operating across Northern Australia.

Jonathan E. Baliff, president and chief executive officer of Bristow Group Inc., said: “Airnorth is an exceptional operator, and our companies are culturally and operationally aligned putting our clients first, with shared core values of safety, teamwork and excellence.

“This investment strengthens our ability to provide a complete suite of point-to-point transportation services for existing Australian-based passengers and create more integrated, logistics solutions for our global clients.”

Airnorth will retain its name and brand identity and will continue to operate under the direction of Michael Bridge, Airnorth’s chief executive officer. Bridge will remain on the Airnorth board of directors. Bristow will have three representatives on the board.

Michael Bridge, Airnorth chief executive officer, added: “Our new partnership with Bristow Australia will see further expansion for the company and its services to charter clients.

“Airnorth will continue to operate all scheduled passenger services across its current route network without interruption to existing passenger bookings.

“We are very proud to be Australia’s second oldest airline and this is an exciting time of growth for Airnorth, our staff and customers. All Airnorth staff will be retained in this acquisition and we anticipate a seamless transition into Bristow.

"Airnorth and Bristow have previously worked closely together in the provision of integrated air services to existing clients and are united in our commitment to safety and superior service to our customers,” Bridge added.

Allan Blake, director of Bristow’s Australia Business Unit, added: “Many of our global clients are requesting a fully integrated passenger service, including travel services, as they seek to refocus on their core business.

“Recent tenders in Australia have requested fixed-wing services, including arranging travel through Bristow Travel (Australia). The potential exists to reduce client costs associated with travel, accommodation and passenger logistics, by providing fixed-wing plus helicopter solutions to our oil and gas clients.”

As the largest regional airline operating in Northern Australia, Airnorth’s fixed-wing operations are based in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, and include both scheduled and charter services, which focus primarily on the energy and mining industries in northern and western Australia, and international service to Timor-Leste and the Philippines.

The airline’s fleet consists of thirteen aircraft, nine turboprop and four regional jets, and its customer base includes many energy companies to which Bristow already provides helicopter service. Its headquarters will remain in Darwin. Airnorth provides the bulk of flying to many remote oil and gas and indigenous tribal areas and is the only Darwin/Northern Territory-based Qantas code-share partner.

Through its partnership with Qantas Airways, Airnorth offers  connectivity including check in and interline baggage facilities. Passengers may also earn and redeem Qantas Frequent Flyer points on Airnorth scheduled services.