08 January 2012

Singapore Firm Buys 48pct of Deccan Aviation, a Sri Lankan Helicopter and Aircraft Operator


08th January 2012, www.sundaytimes.lk

Singapore-based  Millennium Aero has acquired a 48% stake in local helicopter and aircraft operator Deccan Aviation Lanka (DAL), shares which were earlier held by India's Deccan Charters Ltd.

The changing of the stake happened in October last year, Suren Mirchandani, Vice Chairman of the company, told the Business Times, also revealing that, "we have an agreement with Deccan Charters to use the same name (Deccan) until such time we are ready to re-brand."

Millennium Aero has also infused additional working capital in the local airline with board changes being effected with the new shareholdings. The board now comprises Kevin Pocock (Chairman), Suren Mirchandani (Vice Chairman), Harsha Amarasekara, Denham Schokman and Yeo Sock Hwa.

Deccan's Sri Lanka venture was put together in 2004 by Mr Mirchandani, whose family group Favourites' has a significant equity stake, in partnership with Indian aviation mogul Captain Gopinath.

After starting out with a single Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, Deccan inducted a Beech 1900 in 2007 to operate the Colombo-Jaffna route and regional operations to destinations such as Male, before replacing it in 2011 with a brand new commuter aircraft built by GippsAero of Australia.

"Widely acknowledged as the market leader, the airline has a strong pipeline of new business bolstered by the entry of Millennium Aero," the company said in a statement.

The airline says it plans to commence daily scheduled operations to Jaffna this year and is also looking at international operations out of the Katunayake airport and Mattala.

"Deccan India can be very proud of the role they played in re-starting the domestic aviation industry in 2004 after it had been suspended for security reasons in 1995. We thank them for the pioneering role they have played in the emergence of domestic aviation in the country," the statement quoted Mr Mirchandani as saying.

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