Air ambulance operator Aquarius Aviation of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has partnered with Nordic Medical Centre (NMC) to perform medical flights.
“We chose to work with NMC because it is a leader in medical care in Ethiopia, having recently opened its doors in Addis Ababa,” says deputy MD and chief pilot Andre Huisamen. “NMC has world class medical equipment, and qualified doctors and nurses who uphold international standards. They instil confidence in clients.”
The venture will open up new regions of operation for Aquarius, which has been flying in Ethiopia and surrounding territories for the past six years. “We know what works and what doesn't,” continues Huisamen. “We have developed a relationship of trust with the regulatory bodies in Ethiopia, Somaliland and Djibouti, where we will be focusing our efforts. We have put everything in place to enable smooth operations.”
The company will be using a twin piston Aero Commander 690 dedicated to the service that will be on permanent standby ready for deployment to any part of Ethiopia, with a response time of one hour. It is fitted with an STC approved medical stretcher.
“We chose the Aero Commander because it is ideal in any environment, from international airports to the short dirt strips of Ethiopia,” Huisamen explains. “It cruises at an average of 280 kts, is very versatile and can get to any persons that are in need of our services, anywhere with an airstrip. Being pressurised means that we can transport patients in a comfortable environment. We have operated this aircraft for the past six years and we know what it is capable of.”
The company plans to start small and make a name for itself as an efficient and reliable air ambulance service provider, as Aquarius has done for charter flight services. It also harbours ambitions to take on a jet, opening up the possibility of overseas patient transportation. The location in central Africa means that the company is well situated to access major hubs such as Dubai.
“With the current situation in the oil market, business is quite slow for the beginning of this year, but we are seeing an increase in tourist numbers coming to Ethiopia,” he says. “It is becoming an adventure hot spot, especially since Ethiopia was named by the BBC as the world's best tourism destination of 2015. Things are truly looking up for this year.
“We believe in this new venture of ours, and see it as a necessity to make Ethiopia even more attractive for foreign investors, tourists and companies, giving them peace of mind that in case of an emergency situation anywhere in the country, the best care is just a phone call away.”