The US helicopter company that majority owns UK regional carrier Eastern Airways filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Saturday.

Bristow Group has a 60% stake in Humberside-based Eastern Airways.

However, the company said the filing – a US court-administered process that gives a firm breathing space while it agrees a financial reorganisation – only covers certain entities in the US and two subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands.

“Bristow’s other non-US entities, including those holding Bristow’s non-US air operating certificates, are not included in the Chapter 11 filings,” the company confirmed.

The move came after a “thorough review of strategic financial alternatives,” according to president and CEO Don Miller.

“This process will allow us to strengthen our balance sheet, achieve a lower and more sustainable debt level and emerge as a stronger company,” he added.

“We have the support of the overwhelming majority of our parent company senior secured noteholders, with whom we have entered into a restructuring support agreement that will help to de-lever our balance sheet, and we are actively working with other important stakeholders as we enter this process.

“Bristow remains steadfast in its commitment to safety and providing exceptional client service during the Chapter 11 process.

“For clients, it is business as usual at Bristow, and our talented team will stay focused on delivering safe, reliable and professional services around the globe throughout the process and beyond.

“We expect to execute a prompt and efficient reorganisation, and to emerge from this restructuring process as a stronger company that is an even better business partner, employer and trusted service provider.”