Senior pilot Drew Willard.
Senior pilot Drew Willard. Kara Irving

Gladstone's longest running chopper company collapses

GLADSTONE'S longest running helicopter service, Australian Helicopters, has closed its local base.

The service, which had been running commercial and charter flights across the region for 15 years, took its last flight on May 30.

The departure of Australian Helicopters has left Gladstone Helicopters with a monopoly of the market.

Former Australian Helicopters base manager and senior pilot Drew Willard, who was made redundant as a result of shake-up, said the business nosedived after losing a contract with Heron Island Resort.

"Work was getting quieter once we lost that contract," Mr Willard said.

"In terms of charter (flights) ... they were never really enough alone to make ends meet."

Mr Willard had been flying helicopters in Gladstone for four years and said it was disappointing to say goodbye.

"We put so much work in to keep our clients happy. It was quite upsetting letting some of our loyal clients know that we weren't running anymore," he said.

Gladstone Helicopters base pilot Erris Gallagher said the company picked up a bit of work from the closure of Australian Helicopters, but survived comfortably in the market with its own clientele.

"We had our own clients that we did a lot of work (with) who didn't use Australian (Helicopters) at all," Mr Gallagher said.

Mr Gallagher said the company had a contract with Maritime Safety Queensland for marine pilot transfers.

CareFlight Group Queensland operates the other helicopter service out of Gladstone, which only responds to medical emergencies on Curtis Island.

Mr Willard said he would continue looking for work locally.
 



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