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Old 11th Mar 2010, 07:05
  #19 (permalink)  
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Yarmouth 'could lose heliport'


Last updated: 11/03/2010 05:47:00

A helicopter company which ferries workers from Great Yarmouth to North Sea oil and gas platforms is considering moving its base of operations from the town.

CHC has a fleet of five helicopters at Yarmouth's North Denes heliport, which has been serving the offshore industry for 40 years.

Yesterday the Aberdeen-based company confirmed that it is looking into the possibility of relocating its North Denes base, which operates Augusta Westland 139 and Sikorsky S76 helicopters and has 70 staff.

CHC is asking its offshore customers if they would support the closure and relocation of the heliport's business.

If the response is negative then the plans should be ditched.

The EDP understands that CHC is considering moving its Yarmouth operation to Norwich International Airport because of the costs of building a new run way at North Denes.

Last night Yarmouth Borough Council leader Barry Coleman said his authority was working closely with CHC to try and persuade the company to stay at North Denes.

As well as the ramifications of losing 70 jobs from Yarmouth, it is feared that fewer offshore workers will stay in Yarmouth hotels and guest houses if they land elsewhere in the region.

On average about 30,000 passengers pass through the heliport's terminal to get to the southern part of the North Sea.

Mr Coleman hopes CHC can be persuaded to stay in Yarmouth by pointing out that the town will be at the centre of ambitious plans to expand offshore wind turbines and carbon capture sites.

He said: "It would be big blow if CHC did move.

"The council is working with CHC to try and persuade them that it would be better for them to stay where they are.

"We will be showing them that the long term benefits of staying at North Denes will outweigh any short term financial advantage of relocating."

A spokeswoman from CHC's Aberdeen head offices said: "CHC are looking into the possibility of relocating from North Denes however at this stage no decisions have been made.

"Our priority is to provide the best possible service to our customers and as such we are engaging with them to gain their feedback on any potential move.

"Should any relocation happen in the future, it is our intention that there would be no material changes to existing contracts."

In 2006 CHC, which operates 250 aircraft in 35 countries, started to bring in Augusta Westland 139 helicopters alongside Sikorsky S76s at North Denes.