Leonardo Helicopters vice president of sales for Asia Pacific Vincenzo Alaimo says there are requirements from both private and public sectors for additional helicopters in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Multinational aerospace, defence and security company, Leonardo SpA anticipates its helicopters business in Malaysia would continue growing healthily underpinned by improved local economy.

Leonardo Helicopters vice president of sales for Asia Pacific Vincenzo Alaimo said there are requirements from both private and public sectors for additional helicopters in Malaysia.

“We have been growing strongly in the last 10 years in Malaysia. We went from a very few helicopters up to a fleet of 55 helicopters.

“One of the opportunities include the AW159, anti-submarine warfare mission helicopter for the navy. We also promote the AW189 helicopter for the search and rescue mission as well as coast guard operation,” he told NST Business in an exclusive interview yesterday.

Alaimo said Leonardo closely works with Weststar Group, and aims to sell six units of the AW159. Meanwhile, the company targets to sell four units of the AW189 in Malaysia.

“Weststar is the leading player in terms of offering its services to the government, navy and oil and gas business providers,” he added.

He said the company is confident of securing helicopters contract from the Malaysian government, noting that most of its products have the right solutions, particularly for the anti-submarine helicopters requirement for the Royal Malaysian Navy.

“Our anti-submarine helicopter, AW159, is definitely an important asset to protect the areas of economic zone like the South China Sea.

“There is a lot of traffic surrounding the region, mainly for vessels and submarines,” he said.

Alaimo said Malaysia is Leonardo’s hub in South East Asia (SEA) for the helicopter support and training, noting that there are a few untapped markets yet to be developed.

“For example, the helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) – flying ambulance is probably the next step for the helicopter market development to serve the SEA market.

“This service is very common in the United States and Europe but it is still undeveloped in this region,” he said.

Alaimo believes HEMS will be one of growth areas in Malaysia within the next five years, noting that more helicopters deployment in Malaysia moving forward for this service.

The Leonardo Helicopters’ subsidiary Agusta Westland Malaysia established in 2007 currently has over 55 helicopters in operation comprising the AW139, AW189, AW109, AW119 and the Super Lynx.

“Most of our fleet is being used for business charter service, government agency, and royal armed forces as well as oil and gas service providers,” he said, adding that about half of its helicopters fleet is being used in oil and gas sector.

Alaimo believes there will be more oil and gas exploration activities this year in light of the recovery in oil prices.

“Those players are more optimistic this year. We can see now in SEA, particularly Malaysia – there is a more positive sentiment regarding exploration works and new projects.

“Hopefully, there will be more opportunities for us in the helicopters business,” he added.

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