The financial pressures impacting helicopter operators supporting the oil and gas industry have claimed another victim: U.S.-based Petroleum Helicopters Inc. (PHI) filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Lafayette, Louisiana-based operator, with a fleet of 240 helicopters, announced its filing on March 14. It joined a growing list of helicopter operators that have turned to Chapter 11 to restructure their businesses, including CHC, Erickson and Waypoint Leasing.

Oil and gas helicopter support operators continue to face a challenging market caused by lower energy prices. Reduced demand for their services has resulted in aircraft sitting idle. At the same time, they also are facing increasing pressure from clients to reduce costs. Fellow operator Bristow also recently was forced to abandon a takeover of Columbia Helicopters, as the company faces a dramatic drop in revenue due to its attempts to diversify away from oil field operations.

Although best-known for its Gulf of Mexico drill rig crew-change flights, PHI also has operations in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand and West Africa. And it flies emergency medical service operations in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The company’s international operations are not affected by the Chapter 11 filing. “This filing does not in any way reflect the relative health of our businesses. It is simply a reflection of the need to reorganize our financial structure,” the company said in a letter to customers. “We are confident that this is the best option for a timely and efficient resolution to protect PHI’s future.” PHI said it received $70 million in funding through a loan from Blue Torch Capital on March 13 and that it is continuing to generate revenues from existing operations.

The company also said it is in discussions about addressing $500 million of debt obligations and is in negotiations with lessors about its helicopter fleets. It has not said whether it will try to shed some aircraft to reduce its leasing burdens as with other operators. “We are working to emerge from bankruptcy in the summer of 2019 with a significantly reduced and more sustainable debt structure that will position PHI for long-term success,” company officials said.