Airmedic, one of the main players in the air emergency evacuation niche in Quebec, was pushed into insolvency by the debacle of its main shareholder, Groupe Huot. This Quebec government supplier even needed an emergency loan of 1.5 million to continue stealing and looking for a new owner.
This information can be found in the documents filed with the Superior Court of Quebec by the company based in Saint-Hubert, in the southern suburbs of Montreal, which has benefited from the protection of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act since the week last. We also learn that Airmedic’s debts amount to approximately 105 million – of which 66 million are “guaranteed”.
But the request above all illustrates how the financial difficulties of Groupe Huot – a well-established real estate developer in the Quebec City region – caused a domino effect in the air medical transport company.
“The defaults of certain entities of the Huot Group guaranteed by entities which have guaranteed the entities of the Airmédic Group have caused situations of default with secured creditors, one can read. These defaults put a significant pressure on the liquidity of the Airmedic Group, which ultimately caused the current insolvency situation. »
In other words, the property developer’s inability to meet some of its financial obligations resulted in the aerial emergency evacuation specialist being left with an additional financial burden on his shoulders. This is what prompted him to protect himself from his creditors. The petition, however, does not offer more details about how Airmedic was pushed into insolvency by its shareholder.
Around July 7, the debtors no longer had “sufficient funds to ensure the continuity of operations and to continue the solicitation process [to find a buyer] put in place”. They had “no solution to remedy this major problem”. It was not possible to get an idea of the company’s finances. The court request points out that this information was placed under seal.
Groupe Huot presents itself as a developer and manager of “large-scale” residential and commercial real estate projects. Since the beginning of the year, its financial situation has particularly deteriorated. Millénium Construction, a division of Groupe Huot specializing in the construction of rental complexes, declared an 84 million bankruptcy last May, citing the current economic context, the rise in interest rates, the increase in the cost of materials and the lack labor. Work has stopped on construction sites, and layoffs have taken place.
In recent months, Quebecor media have also reported that Stéphane Huot, founder of the company, had been dispossessed of rental complexes. The businessman is also said to have put some of his properties up for sale due to the mounting financial difficulties.
Airmédic has been looking for new investors for several months now. Interim financing of $1.5 million obtained from Laurentian Bank and Fiera Capital should allow it to continue operations until August 11, when it is hoped that the sales or investment solicitation process will be completed.
“The debtors firmly believe that despite the current situation, Airmedic is a thriving business and that the implementation of a transaction will allow it to focus on development and growth projects,” reads the petition.
Airmédic declined to comment on the status of the process on Monday.
In addition to emergency evacuations, the Saint-Hubert company offers a medical transportation service to certain First Nations in remote regions. Under contracts with the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ), Airmédic transports patients to major centers so that they can receive care. By email on Monday, the MTQ said it was maintaining “contact with the company to avoid service failures in connection with the performance of its contracts”.
“The Department’s teams have prepared contingency scenarios to ensure the continuity of aeromedical evacuation services throughout Quebec,” wrote its spokesperson, Émilie Lord, without providing further details on the scenarios in question.
There are a few players in this niche in Quebec. Propair, a company established in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, offers this service in particular. Created in 2022, Hélico Secours is also growing. This cooperative closely follows what is happening at Airmédic.
“Our business model is different, but we don’t close the door [to getting involved in the file] depending on how things will unfold,” explains general manager Alain Vallières. There are 80 crew members, paramedics and pilots in Saguenay and Saint-Hubert. We are ready to accelerate this deployment. »
Hélico Secours did not, however, attempt to get hold of Airmédic, confirms Mr. Vallières. The cooperative prefers to wait to be invited to intervene. According to Quebecor media, Dessercom, an ambulance company based in Lévis, would also be interested in the insolvent company.
Year of foundation: 2012
Staff: 135 people (health professionals, pilots, administration)
Fleet: 11 aircraft (Pilatus PC-12NG, Airbus EC145e helicopters, Pilatus PC-24)
Sheds: Saint-Hubert, La Romaine, Saint-Honoré, Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon