NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) - Oil and gas customers of helicopter company Sikorsky have passed on options for aircraft amid the sharp slide in oil prices, the president of the United Technologies Corp unit said on Thursday.
Helicopters that shuttle crews to offshore oil rigs are a major commercial market for Sikorsky and other manufacturers.
"We have had customers pass on 2015 aircraft options...as oil companies cut back on capital investment," Sikorsky president Mick Maurer said at an investor presentation. "Oil market softness will continue into 2016 and start to come back in 2017."
Nonetheless, Maurer forecast a sales increase of 3 percent to 5 percent this year for the commercial business of Sikorsky, which is also a major military supplier. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Sagarika Jaisinghani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)