BAN's World GazetteerU.K.
Gama Aviation has been awarded a seven-year contract for the provision of HEMS by UK aeromedical service Wales Air Ambulance Charity (WAAC).
The contract, commencing 1 January 2024, is for the operation and maintenance of five Airbus H145 emergency medical service helicopters, two of which will be supplied by Gama. A primary fleet of four helicopters will operate from WAAC’s current facilities in Cardiff, Caernarfon, Welshpool and Dafen providing comprehensive nationwide HEMS coverage. The fifth helicopter will provide back-up for the maintenance downtime of the primary fleet to ensure service continuity.
David Gilbert, Wales Air Ambulance chair of trustees, states: “After a robust procurement process, we are delighted to announce Gama Aviation as our next aviation partner. It is a forward-thinking and ambitious company with experience of helicopter emergency medical services in Guernsey and Jersey, as well as in Scotland. We look forward to working with it in the years to come.”
This contract is expected to deliver overall revenues of around GB£65 million over its seven-year term with margins consistent with those derived from Gama group’s other special mission activities.
The company will invest in standing-up the operation, deploying the requisite capabilities and other working capital requirements during H2 2023 to enable the service delivery at the start of next year.
Gama MD of special missions Mark Smith comments: “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this contract by the charity. We look forward to working closely with the team as we stand-up the aircraft, flight, maintenance crews and other resources that are required to deliver this important national service.”
Group CEO Marwan Khalek adds: “I am delighted that we will be partnering with the charity for the next seven years to support the important service it delivers to communities across Wales. This contract award is further evidence of the execution of our group’s focused growth strategy and marks another significant milestone for our special mission business unit in the air ambulance market.”
Dr Sue Barnes, WAAC’s chief executive, concludes: “During this procurement, the charity and its trustees have explored all options for the aviation services that will protect and improve our life-saving operation. We were aware that we would face significant increases in re-contracting costs. In many ways, that is the inevitability of long-term contracting arrangements, but global factors have also exacerbated this.
“A like-for-like aviation service now totals just over £3 million more per annum. We were faced with a stark choice; to cut our cloth according to our existing levels of donations and reduce the number of aircraft or rise to the challenge of maintaining our existing fleet, with the passionate and ongoing support of the people of Wales. We agreed that the right thing to do was to maintain our existing fleet.
“There will be some who will point to recent proposals to consider changing base locations and suggest that this was a cost-saving plan when faced with difficult choices on aviation costs. Nothing can be further from the truth. These costs will be the same regardless of whether the service operates out of three bases or four.”
WAAC also confirmed that it will extend its contracts with Caernarfon and Welshpool airports, where two of its operations are currently based, until at least 2026.