CHC hires executive to consolidate flight ops

Author: Derrick Penner

Richmond-based CHC Helicopter has recruited a new executive with significant turnaround experience to run its flight-services operations, the company announced Tuesday.

John Graber, a longtime executive with American Airlines and a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 action to liberate Kuwait, has been appointed president of CHC Helicopter Services, where he will report directly to company CEO Bill Amelio.

Company spokesman Pieter Uni said one of Graber’s immediate tasks will be to help CHC merge its two flying divisions, which operate some 250 aircraft in about 30 countries around the world, into a single operation.

“One of the things we’re hoping to accomplish with this is we’re trying to reduce the overlapping of functions between regions,” Uni said. “We have ambitious growth plans for the segments and all of CHC,” Uni added. “And like any organization that has expanded in part by acquisition, great opportunities for streamlining operations occur.”

Amelio, who took the helm of CHC in August of 2010, said Graber is a leader with “a wealth of experience tackling the challenges we will face as CHC Helicopter grows.”

Graber, who holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, comes to CHC immediately from the Ohio-based air-freight company ABX Air where he profitably restructured the firm following a drop in customer demand.

“As an experienced helicopter pilot and army aviator, Mr. Graber is also very knowledgeable about helicopter operations and shares CHC’s commitment to safety, which makes him a well-rounded choice for this position,” Amelio said in the news release.

Graber is one of two recent appointments at CHC. The company has also brought in Doug Yakola, a senior adviser from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. to serve as an interim chief financial officer to take the place of former CFO Rick Davis, who is stepping down.