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"Troubled waters" for helicopter rescue service and firefighting in Italy

Armonia SGR wants to expand its presence in both sectors

This is a very delicate period for the helicopter rescue service and firefighting sector. In the current year many contracts of the regions for firefighting and especially for helicopter rescue will expire, and it will be necessary to decide if and how to announce new regional competitions.

The recent stop to the tender of the Calabria Region (South of Italy) for judicial reasons has certainly created an unsatisfactory situation in Babcock Italy, so that in the environments of the field also its participation in these tender notices is seen as difficult.

On the future of the sector are also weighed by the strong pressure of the fire brigade unions, which demand that at the expiry of the contracts it is decided to use the helicopters of the Italian Fire Brigade, rather than launching tenders to contract the services to private individuals. After the recent "Madia law" that has merged most of the structures of the Forest Guard into Fire Brigade, several helicopters of the Forestry have been transferred and now managed by Fire Brigade, and this also supports the requests of the Fire Brigade. 

Operators in the field contacted by AVIONEWS reported that they are incredulous about the management of the helicopter rescue by the Fire Brigade for their lack of experience in this sector, for excessive costs, and for the fact that the European regulations could not be applied to the Fire Brigade unit.

A recent statement by Alessandro Grimaldi, CEO of Armonia SGR, a private equity operator, which expresses a strong interest for the acquisition of the Italian branch of Babcock International (former Inaer Aviation) should also be registered. In his declaration to the "Reuters" agency Grimaldi also announces that the development plans of the Gruppo Servizi Associati subsidiary recently acquired (and active in firefighting services) consider growth in Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland. The acquisition of Babcock Italia would enter in this strategy. In 2014 Avincis (which later became Inaer Aviation) had been paid 1.1 billion pounds by Babcock International, the world's main operator for emergency and firefighting services. If the contracts of Babcock Italia are reduced, and according to the newness that there will be in the economic report of the United Kingdom with the EU -with the "Brexit" from March 2019- also the value of Babcock Italia may be affected, and perhaps also this was also evaluated by Armonia.

Nat/bru - 1210187

© AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency Srl