It was announced in February this year that Gama Aviation had successfully bid for the seven-year contract to provide aviation services to the air ambulance in Wales. The decision was made by the Charity’s Trustees following an extensive 18-month procurement process which included input from both aviation and medical professionals.
The Gama Aviation contract, valued at £65 million, covers the operation and maintenance of a primary fleet of four Airbus H145 helicopters, operating from the Charity’s current sites in Dafen, Cardiff, Caernarfon and Welshpool. It additionally includes a backup H145 helicopter to ensure service continuity during periods of maintenance for the primary fleet.
This will be an enhancement compared to the previous fleet, which was made up of three H145 helicopters and one smaller EC135 helicopter. As part of the new contract, the EC135 aircraft has been replaced with a H145, giving the Charity a consistent fleet of advanced helicopters to deliver Wales’ vital air ambulance service.
Gama Aviation was due to start operations on 1 January 2024, with the previous contract ending on 31 December. However, to avoid such a complex process taking place over the Christmas and New Year holidays, all parties agreed to bring forward the transition date.
As a result, Gama Aviation has now taken full control of the operation and maintenance of the Charity’s fleet of aircraft. This new era of aviation for Wales Air Ambulance also sees it take on the direct lease for three of the advanced H145 aircraft.
Dr Sue Barnes, the Charity’s Chief Executive, said: “Our historical contracts saw our suppliers holding the leases for all aircraft. That felt like a potential risk to our services, particularly at a time of global uncertainty. So, to protect our lifesaving service, Trustees agreed that three of the aircraft in our service will be leased directly to the Charity. Therefore, Gama Aviation will operate and maintain four aircraft, plus a backup helicopter, on behalf of the Charity but the Charity will be the direct leaseholder for three of them.”
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