- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - An aviation company in Portland is struggling financially after seeing its sales plummet in recent years.

Erickson Inc. hasn’t made an annual profit since 2013, reported The Oregonian/Oregon Live (https://bit.ly/2bd9Ihv). The helicopter operation has warned employees of another round of layoffs and its primary lender, Wells Fargo, wants the company to find another financier.

Wells Fargo is threatening to charge Erickson a $3.5 million fee if it can’t repay the $140 million credit line by Aug. 29, according to a recent document the company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“What the lenders are saying is, ‘this is too risky, we don’t want the liability,’” said Hamed Khorsand, who follows the industry for BWS Financial. “They’re either going to drive Erickson into bankruptcy or the company will find some really expensive alternative financing.”

Erickson lost a major wildfire-fighting contract with the U.S. Forest Service earlier this year and struggled with $372 million in long-term debt. The company’s stock might also be kicked off the NASDAQ exchange because of insufficient market capitalization.

The company lost $10.2 million in 2014 and $86.7 million in 2015. Erickson also lost $26 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Erikson officials and Wells Fargo officials declined to comment on the situation.

Erickson chief executive Jeff Roberts wrote in a recent letter to employees that the company will have to cut costs and jobs to survive.

“We must restructure and refocus our organization to reflect our expected level of activity and revenue generation,” he wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive. “Unfortunately, that means we are undertaking the difficult action of laying off colleagues.”

Roberts said the cuts will be focused on management.

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