The global helicopter services market size was valued at USD 20.22 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 56.33 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 12.07% during the forecast period (2023–2031). As the world emerges from the pandemic, several nations are setting up national development plans and diversifying their economies by focusing more on improving their tourism-related revenues. This factor is expected to be the major market driver during the forecast period.
A helicopter service is a transportation service that employs helicopters as a mode of transportation. Emergency medical services, transportation of passengers and goods, aerial photography and surveying, search and rescue operations, offshore drilling activities, and other specialized tasks such as firefighting, military operations, and medical evacuations are among the uses for helicopter services.
Private companies, government agencies, or military organizations may provide a helicopter service. In addition to transporting passengers and cargo, some helicopter operators offer sightseeing tours that give passengers a unique and thrilling aerial perspective of the surrounding landscape. These services increase situational awareness and ensure operation efficiency and safety, resulting in fewer accidents and lower operational costs.
|Market Size||USD 56.33 billion by 2031|
|Fastest Growing Market||Europe|
|Largest Market||North America|
|Report Coverage||Revenue Forecast, Competitive Landscape, Growth Factors, Environment & Regulatory Landscape and Trends|
The worldwide travel and tourist industry has had significant impacts due to the pandemic between 2020 and 2021. Various nations responded by implementing numerous national development plans and adopting strategies to promote economic diversification. As a result, the tourism and travel industry is anticipated to experience substantial growth over the medium to long term.
International tourism increased in 2022 due to the easing of travel restrictions at several destinations and the expansion of vaccination programs in many countries. This factor is expected to bolster the prospects of several associated sectors, such as leisure charter, air taxis, aerial sightseeing, media, and entertainment sectors, among others. Similarly, as the world emerges from the pandemic, it is slowly expected to shift away from the work-from-home and virtual meeting cultures, thereby propelling business travel worldwide. Such factors are expected to expedite the market's growth in the future.
The global count of offshore rigs experienced an upward trend starting in 2016. As the onshore oilfields have matured, offshore exploration and production (E&P) activities have increased. For example, in the Permian Basin, the most important basin for crude oil production, the production from old wells has declined, and there is little opportunity for discovery in these regions. As a result, the oil and gas industry is searching for oil and gas in deeper regions to meet the rising demand. This is anticipated to increase the future number of offshore rigs.
Furthermore, there has been significant growth in the deepwater E&P activities. According to IEA, deepwater accounted for 50% of the last decade's discovered oil and gas resources. Hence, with the surge in offshore oil and gas production, the demand for offshore helicopter services is expected to grow. The rising deepwater offshore development activity is expected to fuel the demand for offshore helicopter services to meet the rising crude oil demand.
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in heightened economic constraints, reduced travel and tourism, and lower industrial output. The pandemic caused a prominent decline in travel and tourism revenue in 2020 and 2021. As per the World Travel and Tourism Council, the travel and tourism industry lost nearly USD 4.5 trillion and is projected to reach USD 4.7 trillion by 2020.
The pandemic also affected business travel as the trend of working from home (WFH) and virtual meetings garnered pace. Nevertheless, business travel is expected to come back on track in the near future, coinciding with the reopening of offices and the subsequent increase in in-person meetings and conferences. As a result of these issues, numerous operators have incurred financial losses and experienced a decline in helicopter flight operations, thereby impeding the expansion of the market.
The frequency of wildfires is predicted to grow over the next two decades as a result of rising global temperatures, leading to a larger need for search and rescue and aerial firefighting operations. Thus, end-users are expected to spend an increasingly higher amount of money on these services in the future. Likewise, climate change has influenced the growth in the prevalence of natural disasters. The yearly increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters may increase the demand for search and rescue helicopters in the future.
On the other hand, as road traffic becomes more congested, the requirement for quicker aerial transport is expected to increase, thereby increasing the spending towards Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, particularly in developing countries in the coming years. Helicopters can meet these needs because they can operate without a paved runway, take off, and land at the incident site, reducing response and travel times. These aspects drive the demand for helicopters for the aforementioned applications, thereby creating opportunities for market growth.
Based on region, the global helicopter services market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global helicopter services market shareholder and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 11.86% during the forecast period. The need for helicopter services has increased due to the region's growing offshore wind farm developments and the trend toward cleaner, more sustainable energy. As a result, new contracts and partnerships have increased market value. For instance, Orsted and Eversource, in April 2022, announced that HeliService International Inc. had been awarded the contract for helicopter crew change operations for the two companies' joint venture of offshore wind projects in the Northeast United States. The company will use Leonardo AW169 helicopters to support the company's everyday operations.
Additionally, the increasing revenue from the oil and gas sector of the country has been witnessing an increasing demand in the U.S. and thus directly impacted the need for helicopter services in the offshore segment of the helicopter services industry in the country. The oil and gas industry revenue was valued at USD 110 billion in 2020 despite the economic slowdown due to the lockdown.
Europe is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 11.34% over the forecast period. With the EU's target for increased usage of renewable resources for energy production, the need to set up offshore wind farms has increased significantly over the years. This has led to an increased usage of offshore helicopter services for transportation and the setup of heavy-weight components of the wind farm. As a result, the market for offshore helicopter services has increased. For instance, in April 2020, WIKING Helicopter Services of Germany was awarded the contract to provide a rescue helicopter service for the Hohe See and Albatros offshore wind farms in Germany. The company was also contracted to provide emergency medical evacuation services and the affiliated crew to the wind farms.
Similarly, air ambulances have witnessed a steep rise in demand in the region. The rise in the volume of emergency calls handled throughout the year has led to an expansion in market opportunities within this sector, resulting in a corresponding growth in the demand for helicopter services.
The Asia-Pacific market is growing at a healthy rate owing to the presence of nations like China, India, and Japan in the region. The demand for helicopter services is expected to soar in the region during the upcoming period. For instance, in February 2021, Airbus signed an initial agreement with FlyBlade India, the Indian subsidiary of the U.S.-based helicopter transport services provider BLADE, to help develop the on-demand global market in South Asia. In accordance with the memorandum of understanding, Airbus and BLADE will collaborate to provide educational initiatives targeting helicopter operators, clients, and various regional stakeholders to enhance their awareness of on-demand helicopter services.
In addition, FlyBlade India offers regular helicopter services in Mumbai, Pune, and Shirdi routes in Maharashtra, besides offering special air taxi services in this region. The MoU would sustain the company's aim to expand its on-demand helicopter mobility services to more people at more places in the region and pave the way for the launch of new technologies and services. Such developments are envisioned to spur the growth of the helicopter services market in India during the forecast period.
The Latin America region is expected to grow fastest during the forecast period. Brazil is the leading revenue contributor to the market in this region. Brazil's active fleet of helicopters was estimated at 1188, with 859 helicopters owned by corporates and businesses, while the charter fleet stood at 212 helicopters. Training helicopters accounted for another 80 helicopters in its active fleet, followed by 28 helicopters in the offshore role, 6 in the medical role, and 2 for firefighting services.
Furthermore, the Amazonian Forest belt and the southern parts of Brazil regularly experience a dry season with high temperatures, leading to drought-like conditions and a rise in forest fires. In 2021, the Amazon forest fire and southern drought led to aerial firefighting worth over 350 hours, of which it is estimated that a mere 15-20% was accounted for by helicopters. This technology is expected to improve the demand for helicopters in aerial firefighting and thus drive demand in the region as the Amazon rainforest has been recording an increase in forest fire occurrences year-on-year.
The global helicopter services market is segmented by application.
Based on application, the global helicopter services market is bifurcated into business and corporate travel, air ambulance, search and rescue, leisure charter, transport, media and entertainment, surveying, offshore, and others.
The air ambulance segment dominates the global market and is projected to exhibit a CAGR of 9.86% over the forecast period. Air ambulance helicopters are outfitted with the necessary medical equipment and accessories, and their medical crews are trained to administer initial emergency care to patients. Air ambulance services have advantages over traditional road ambulance services because they mitigate the problem of lengthy travel times and restricted access to remote areas. In addition, the increasing number of accidental cases and the introduction of completely medically equipped air ambulances drive market growth. According to the WHO, around 1.35 million people die annually from road accidents. It is the leading cause of death among people aged between 5 - 29. The timely and efficient emergency services provided to chronically ill patients can protect their lives and significantly increase the market's growth potential.
Helicopter services that cater to individuals and businesses for personal travel and VIP/employee/emergency transport purposes are considered under the segment. Expansion of businesses, the surge in government initiatives for the development of meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE) segment and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) sector, newest developments in the emerging markets, and other favorable trends are expected to propel the demand for business travel using helicopters. In addition, business travel helicopter operators are expanding their fleets to increase their service offerings. In August 2021, Airbus Corporate Helicopters delivered an ACH145 helicopter to a private operator. The operator will primarily fly the helicopter for private and business travel. Such an emphasis on enhancing the service offerings is expected to drive the market for helicopter services for business/corporate travel in the coming years.
The demand for helicopter search and rescue services is mainly due to factors like the greater need to protect men and materials, technological evolution, and the changing nature of warfare. In recent years, the increasing number of accidents in inaccessible terrains has increased the significance of search and rescue operations and medical evacuation procedures. Oil companies, governments, and operators seek multipurpose aircraft to perform various missions. In addition, SAR helicopters are becoming more capable with the evolution of technology. The advent of next-generation helicopter avionics, control and display units, Integration of self-protection systems, self-sealing fuel tanks, new terminal information systems, etc., in search and rescue helicopters is propelling their adoption.
The leisure charter segment involves the demand from the passenger leisure travel activities in which the end-users rent individual private aircraft. The competition in the helicopter charter industry is intensifying as new players focus on entering and growing their customer base in the helicopter charter market via strategic partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions. For instance, in May 2021, Directional Aviation's OneSky Flight, the parent company of global private jet travel provider Flexjet, on-demand charter providers PrivateFly and FXAIR, and jet card provider Sentient Jet, announced that it had acquired the United Kingdom-based helicopter provider Halo Aviation.