Deccan Aviation Lanka gets new strategic shareholder

Monday, 16 January 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Jaffna domestic scheduled flights to resume
  • Mulling international operations

Domestic helicopter and aircraft operator Deccan Aviation Lanka (DAL) last week announced that

Millennium Aero has acquired a 48% shareholding in DAL held by Bangalore based Deccan Charters Ltd. with effect from 30 October 2011.

In details released to the media, the DAL statement revealed that Singapore based Millennium Aero has acquired the entire equity interest of Deccan Charters and infused additional working capital into DAL.

Deccan’s Sri Lanka venture was put together in 2004 by local investor Suren Mirchandani in partnership with Indian aviation mogul Captain Gopinath. Regarded in industry circles as a pioneer who played a key role in re-building the domestic airline sector, Mirchandani’s family holding company Favourite Investments will continue to have a significant equity stake in the venture.

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.

The airline operates helicopters to all parts of the country and flies to all local airports. In addition to its own operations the airline maintains and provides services for a number of private aircraft owners. Widely acknowledged as the market leader, the airline has a strong pipeline of new business bolstered by the entry of Millennium Aero of Singapore.

The airline has announced firm plans to commence daily scheduled operations to Jaffna in 2012 and is also said to be looking at international operations out of BIA and Mattala.

The new Board of the company comprises Kevin Pocock (Chairman), Suren Mirchandani (Vice Chairman), Harsha Amarasekara, Denham Schokman and Yeo Sock Hwa.

When asked whether Deccan Lanka would rebrand, Mirchandani stated: “There’s no doubt that the airline has a strong brand presence in the corporate and travel industry, but the new shareholder group may look at rebranding in the medium term” and did not comment when asked to reveal the growth plans of the company only saying “that would be giving away too much to our future competition, I can only say we intend to maintain and further cement our market leadership position”.

“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,” Mirchandani added.

“Until recently, Deccan Lanka was the only private helicopter company in the island, and has also operated a Beech 1900 on local and international routes, and maintained a vital air bridge to Jaffna. Measured by years-of-operations, engineering expertise, our unique capability of both helicopters and planes, customer base and guest experience, Deccan is undoubtedly the market leader when it comes to flying leisure or corporate clients to any part of the country,” added Mirchandani.

“Let me also say that Deccan India has been an amazing partner, and we look forward to continuing to build on the excellent relationship we have developed over the years. We thank Capt. Gopinath for the role he played as Chairman, investor and mentor to us. We will continue to operate the Bell Jet Ranger belonging to them, and we can also choose from their large fleet of helicopters and business jets on short notice. We will continue to do what we do best, flying our guests in exquisite comfort and safety to where they want, and when they want.”