José Zepeda
Operations Manager
Transportes Aéreos Pegaso
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View from the Top

Route to Recovery After a Drastic Year

By Pedro Alcalá | Fri, 12/24/2021 - 07:12

Q: How has the company performed in 2021 compared to the previous year?

A: We finished the first half of 2021 with a rhythm of activity that began to show a curve of recovery and prompted a better business outlook. We expect 3Q21 to have more mobility since more international oil companies are expected to intensify their drilling and development campaigns and begin to look at us for support. We have yet to recover pre-pandemic passenger transit levels, which is mathematically understandable given the greater delays and blockages that the pandemic continues to impose on air travel.      

Q: What is the status of your fleet and your policy of yearly acquisitions?

A: We met our yearly acquisition policy in 2020 by receiving one Airbus unit and delaying the delivery of three more, which we planned to receive this year. Those deliveries are still on standby, therefore, we will most likely not receive any new units this year until certain market conditions are met. This year is important for both PEMEX and private operators because growth and investment projections are being defined by all of them. PEMEX is investing to increase its shallow water well portfolio, while private operators are aiming to meet their early production phases or increase their production levels. Some of these operators are also working in the middle of a window that lasts between 18 and 24 months within their contract execution time frames related to the engineering of their projects. Many of their transportation needs will not be returning until 2022. This means we need to be strategic about how we will maintain our yearly acquisition policy. Taking the time to work more than usual on the maintenance, rehabilitation and modernization of existing units could prove to be helpful.    

Q: To what extent has the role played by private operators in your portfolio continued to increase in 2021?

A: This trend has been maintained so far. This year, we have worked with three international companies. We just finished working with CNOOC. In May, we began supporting Repsol’s campaign, which has been quite successful. We have also continued working with ENI, which recently announced its latest discovery of an offshore reservoir. The Airbus unit that we received in 2020, which has a capacity for 16 passengers, played a key role in the work we did for these three clients.

Q: What technology and product development is the helicopter market focusing on?

A: The latest 12 and 16 passenger units have proven to be accurate in terms of their sensor technology. These units can indicate to us when maintenance is needed and what types of issues could occur while in operation. This has proven to be incredibly beneficial for accident prevention. All units come with “plug and play” functionality, which means that connecting any electronic device will connect the user to the unit’s components. All of this makes our operations and the continuity of our maintenance and repairs much more agile. Pilots also will have much more favorable flight conditions by applying these technologies. Eventually, technological development will lead us to unmanned and even automated units and certainly the development of these sensors would suggest that this is possible. Nevertheless, I believe this is very far off because you would have to develop entirely new relationships of trust and of liability and risk-sharing between fleet managers and manufacturers, not to mention new labor paradigms. I can see unmanned trains and monorails in certain airports around the world but they cover short distances, usually not more than 1km. In general, we would need to see a change in cultural mindset before these technologies can materialize, since people would need to develop coping mechanisms to travel in a helicopter without a pilot. 

Q: How would compare the 50 percent decrease in operational volume you experienced in 2020 to other downturns for the company?

A: I could compare the situation we experienced in 2020 to the industry environment that developed between 2015 and 2016, when the downturn led to massive project cancellations and an aggressive compression of offshore work in Mexico. Back then, our clients demanded a reduction in our costs. PEMEX requested that we support their operations under specific financial circumstances. We agreed because we understood that this industry binds us in chains of productivity that must not be interrupted. In terms of operational impact, however, 2020 is definitely in a category of its own. The 50 percent decrease was historical for us. The only situation that came close to this decrease took place between 2010 and 2011, in a weather event that was influenced by climate change. Forest fires on the GOM coast led to extremely low visibility and PEMEX shut down all operations as a result, so we spent a month doing 5   percent of the work we were supposed to have done. However, that period lasted one month, not an entire year like in 2020.

 

Transportes Aéreos Pegaso has been providing executive air transport services since 1981. In 1983, it won its first PEMEX contract to shuttle passengers and cargo to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. It has completed more than 1.1 million flight operations.

Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Senior Journalist & Industry Analyst