March 31, 2017 03:21 PM
Image courtesy Sikorsky

Lafayette-based Petroleum Helicopters Inc. is closing its Morgan City/Amelia base, KATC TV-3 confirmed Wednesday morning.

The station reported that an unknown number of employees had already been laid off from the St. Mary Parish facility, which transports workers offshore. The publicly traded helicopter transportation company, one of the largest in the world, is heavily concentrated in the oil and gas business and has been impacted by the decline in oil prices.

In late February, the company reported a net loss of $26.7 million ($1.70 per share) for 2016, compared to a $26.9 million profit in 2015. The decrease in earnings was primarily due to declines its oil and gas and air medical segments, losses that were partially offset by an increase in profits for its technical services segment.

Revenue was reported as $634.1 million, compared with $804 million in the prior year. (Read the earnings report here.)

The company’s stock is down 44 percent over the past year, currently trading at $11.60.

KATC reported that the helicopter transportation company released the following statement on March 29:
“We have made the difficult decision to close our Morgan City base due to a very difficult economic environment and changes in our customers’ needs. We continue to work through the details, including timing, and will do everything possible to limit the impact on the vast majority of our employees and the community,” the spokesman said.

“Based on the challenging economic environment and significantly changing customer needs, we are in the difficult position to have to reduce a small percentage of our workforce in Lafayette, between 1.5 and 2% percent of our total workforce. We have and will continue to carefully evaluate our staffing models to best serve our customers. While we are committed to protecting as many of our employees as possible, to us, even one person negatively impacted is significant.”
According to the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, PHI has approximately 600 employees who are based out of the Lafayette office, some of whom likely work in other areas of the state. The company is headquartered at the Lafayette Regional Airport.

Read the station’s follow-up story on the mayor's and community’s reaction here.

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