A Queenstown helicopter company has been bought back by its manager four years after he sold it to Ngai Tahu Tourism.
A deal to sell Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters (GSLH) back to its former owner, Pat West — who had sold it the other way in 2016 — was confirmed last week after Ngai Tahu Holdings reviewed its portfolio.
"As a result of that review, it was determined GSLH did not fit with the tribe's long-term investment strategy and was better suited to an owner/operator model," Ngai Tahu Holdings chief executive Mike Pohio said.
West said he was approached by Ngai Tahu Holdings and decided to go for it and include his son Luke West and GSLH pilot Luke McEwan as co-owners.
"Like any business, you've got to have a succession plan moving forward. We've been involved with aviation for 30 years and ... this business for the last 20 years, through different owners.
"You've got to give the people that have aviation in their blood and have been involved since day one the opportunity moving forward," he said.
West did not want to talk about what the business cost to buy back.
"With any deal, if it's a fair deal and everyone's happy, then it's good, but I can't comment on actual value."
Covid-19 had "put a shadow on things" but he was confident there were better times to come.
He said 70 per cent of their business was tourism-related. The rest was made up of film work, firefighting and other general utilities work.
"Pre-Covid, we were heavily involved in the film, screen production industries.
"We've done the majority of the big features down here, a lot of documentaries, car ads, beer ads ... just about everything the screen production industry requires from an aero perspective."
He said once more travel was allowed into New Zealand, the country would get a surge of activity in the film industry.
"New Zealand's had another presence on the world stage, being able to virtually eliminate Covid at the moment.
"People once again see it maybe as a safer place to come. Right now the film opportunities are pretty low. Obviously, once those borders can open up and people can freely travel, we're expecting a reasonable amount of traffic around this way regarding film, that's for sure."
He said when Ngai Tahu Tourism cut about 300 jobs earlier this year following the Covid-19 disruption and lockdown, Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters lost about half its staff.
They had started to bring some of the old team back.
"Since Thursday we've taken on two old staff members ... two more jobs for two locals on a limited basis at the moment."
Pohio said Ngai Tahu Holdings was still committed to tourism in Aotearoa.
"We know that, in time, this sector will rebound, and we are positioning ourselves strategically to take advantage of that future growth," he said.
"However, it is and will remain important that any assets and investments are a strong fit with our long-term strategy."