Waypoint CEO: Helicopter Leasing Market Growing Faster Than Anticipated
Rotor & Wing
By Andrew Parker
13 May 2014
Limerick, Ireland-based Waypoint Leasing has closed on a five-year term loan facility with a Goldman Sachs-led group. The helicopter lessor will use the funding to refinance six existing helicopters under Waypoint’s $385 million revolving credit facility, consisting of AgustaWestland AW139 and Sikorsky S-76C++ and S-92 variants.
The $72.5-million term loan “allows us to recycle our revolving credit facility,” explained Waypoint CEO Ed Washecka during an interview with Rotor & Wing. “With the term loan, we pay the revolver back down, so we have the capacity now within the revolver to do more deals.”
CFO Alan Jenkins adds that the term loan gives Waypoint the ability to “finance future helicopter acquisitions and facilitate quick and seamless transactions” with existing and new customers. Washecka noted that the Goldman Sachs term loan “puts us in a great position for future financings.”
Currently, Waypoint’s fleet mix of 35-plus helicopters is made up of about 80 percent oil and gas operators. “We want to be diversified. We put a lot of effort in trying to build EMS, search and rescue, firefighting and parapublic segments into our portfolio,” Washecka said, adding that the company is “doing better than we thought in that regard” at this stage of its development. “As we grow the business, especially as we add the heavies and the new medium aircraft, they do tend to be oil and gas, so that’s where the bulk of our exposure is, and it’s likely to stay there, at least in the short term.”
The main reason for the challenge in getting into EMS and firefighting is related to scale, according to Washecka. If the company leases one S-92 delivery for $30 million for an oil and gas operator, versus six second-hand EC135s at roughly the same value for an EMS operator, “just from the unit count standpoint it’s harder to build that book,” he noted.
The latest round of financing raises Waypoint’s total debt commitments to more than $450 million. Operators that Waypoint is working with include Air Greenland, Bond Australia, CHC, Helicopter Transportation Group and Hevilift. Waypoint deals with all the four major commercial helicopter manufacturers – AgustaWestland, Airbus Helicopters, Bell and Sikorsky.