Cancelled contract sparks heli firm war


A tourism giant operating in Queenstown faces a $9 million claim for damages after cancelling its helicopter contract with its supplier.

The Helicopter Line Ltd (THL) - which operates the white, blue and red tourism choppers in the skies above the resort and elsewhere - was taken to the High Court in Christchurch this week by the Airwork Group’s Heli Holdings Ltd.

Skyline Enterprises-owned THL leased eight choppers from Heli Holdings, which also maintained the distinctive fleet of aircraft.

They’re used for sight-seeing, heli-skiing, weddings and other tourism and commercial activities.

The contract was due to run until 2022 but THL cancelled the contract in February this year.

In a ruling on how much Heli Holdings would claim, Justice Gerald Nation says: “The plaintiff says that, as a result of the wrongful repudiation of the contract, it is entitled to damages for the loss it will suffer through not receiving the income that it would have received if the contract had run its course.”

Heli Holdings had originally claimed $16m in damages but, when challenged by THL’s lawyers, it adjusted the sum to only cover lost profit and expenses.

Heli Holdings had originally, in September 2013, filed a claim for more than $2m against THL for ‘shortfall hours’ - claiming THL had not used the choppers for the minimum number of hours under the contract.

THL filed a counterclaim in April 2014 for damages of almost $5m alleging Heli Holdings had failed to meet maintenance obligations. The contract was then cancelled in February.

Totally Tourism Ltd is being sued as a guarantor.

The case continued as Mountain Scene went to press.