Helicopter row flies to court

MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 05:00 16/04/2014

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A multimillion-dollar dispute between Queenstown-based helicopter operator The Helicopter Line and Airwork subsidiary Heli Holdings over unpaid leasing fees will be heard in the High Court.

In a judgment released last week, the High Court in Invercargill dismissed an application by Auckland-based leasing company Heli Holdings for summary judgment against The Helicopter Line.

Heli Holdings claimed it was owed more than $2.3 million in leasing fees for eight AS355 Squirrel helicopters leased to The Helicopter Line between 2009 and 2013. Heli Holdings is also claiming $151,000 for engine repairs.

But The Helicopter Line, a subsidiary of tourism giant Skyline Enterprises, counter-claimed that Heli Holdings' parent company Airwork had failed to properly maintain the helicopters. The Helicopter Line said inadequate maintenance had resulted in all eight aircraft being grounded from July to November last year. That gave rise to arguably recoverable losses of more than $4.7m after 4700 potential flying hours were lost and other alleged contract breaches brought the total loss to more than $5m.

Heli Holdings commercial manager Christopher Hart said in an affidavit he rejected any suggestion that Heli Holdings had failed to provide adequate maintenance. The company was certified by the Civil Aviation Authority and had an "exemplary record".

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