There were a total of 699 helicopters with the top commercial helicopter operators with more than 20 turbine helicopters in the Asia-Pacific region in 2021, making up 16% of the total fleet.
As in 2020, CITIC Offshore Helicopter Co. (COHC) operated the largest fleet, with 85 helicopters in total, closely followed by Aero Asahi (66), and Nakanihon Air (65). Of the top 20 regional operators, seven were based in, and primarily operate, in China, five in Australia, and three in Japan. Compared to 2020, due to the bankruptcy of Kingwing which ranked fourth and was one of the primary operators in China, Australia jumped up one more place in the ranking.
Nine operators saw their fleets increase in 2021, while six operators saw their fleets contract. The fleet size of five operators did not change.
COHC retained the top spot among the top 20 operators, as well as in the top six offshore operators. With the addition of a further seven units to its fleet, COHC remained the largest helicopter operator in Asia-Pacific.
Both the second and the third place in the ranking are occupied by Japanese operators. Aero Asahi and Nakanihon Air maintained their ranking successfully, but Aero Asahi’s fleet decreased by four units while Nakanihon Air had no change.
Second only to COHC’s growth, Reignwood, the distributor of Bell, Robinson and Cessna in mainland China, added six helicopters, with 34 in total at the end of 2021. China Southern GA, which increased by five units, had a fleet of 27 helicopters, and climbed eight spots in the ranking.
The operator that saw the most fleet deductions during 2021 was Aero Asahi, which saw four helicopters leave its fleet. Shaanxi Helicopter and CHC came next, both with reductions of three helicopters.
Several Australian operators were spread amongst the top 20 operators list. McDermott Aviation had a small increase in its fleet and jumped up two places in the ranking. Babcock also expanded its fleet size by adding three more helicopters but without any rank change. Heli West dropped one place with one unit leaving its fleet. Similarly, CHC dropped three ranks when three aircraft were deducted. What is noteworthy is that Microflite Helicopter took Kingwing’s place and jumped into the top 20 rankings.
There were also two Indian operators in the list. Pawan Hans moved up from fifth to fourth place in the ranking despite no change in its fleet number, whilst Global Vectra decreased its fleet by one aircraft in 2021 and dropped one place. Weststar was the only Malaysian operator on the list. It added two more aircraft in 2021 and climbed to No. 18. Interestingly, there was no change both in the ranking and fleet number of Hevilift.
Apart from commercial operator, government operators are also an essential part of helicopter operations in the Asia-Pacific region. At the end of December 2021, 655 turbine helicopters were operated by government operators – 15% of the total helicopter fleet in the region.
Overall, the largest fleet in the region consisted of 89 helicopters and was operated by the Japan National Police. This was followed by the Japan Fire Department with 74, and China National Police with 62.
Japan, the country with the biggest government fleet in APAC, operated 226 turbine helicopters through its different government departments: Japan National Police (89), Japan Fire Dept (74), Japan Coast Guard (52), and the remaining 11 helicopters operated in smaller numbers by a variety of government agencies.
Mainland China and Hong Kong SAR, as well as Taiwan, came next behind Japan, operating 119 government helicopters together. Those operators were China National Police (62), Taiwan NASC (22), the Ministry of Transportation (20), HK Government Flying Service (nine), and Civil Aviation Flight University of China (six).
South Korea took the third place with multiple government operators: Korea Forestry Service (47 helicopters), Korea National 119 Rescue (29), Korea National Police (17), and Korea Coast Guard (17).
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