UK-based aviation servicer Gama Aviation has now taken full control of the operation and maintenance of the Welsh Air Ambulance Charity’s fleet of helicopters, in a contract which was set to start on 1 January 2024 but has been moved forward by a week.

Gama was awarded the aircraft service contract in February 2023, after an 18-month procurement process that included input from both aviation and medical specialists.

The decision was made to bring the handover date forward to avoid any confusion or difficulties during the busy Christmas and New Year period.

The £65m contract involves the operation of a primary fleet of four Airbus H145 helicopters from the Charity’s present locations in Dafen, Cardiff, Caernarfon, and Welshpool.

It also contains a backup H145 helicopter to maintain service continuity during repair intervals for the core fleet, an enhancement of the charity’s previous fleet of three H145 helicopters.

David Gilbert, Wales Air Ambulance Chair of Trustees, emphasised how the contract will bring together parts of the old force.

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Gilbert said: “We are pleased to see that a majority of the pilots and engineers who worked with Wales Air Ambulance as part of the previous contract, will be joining Gama Aviation to continue working with our lifesaving service. It just goes to show how passionate they are about serving Wales and saving lives.

“Gama Aviation is a forward-thinking and ambitious company and we look forward to working with them in the years to come. We would also like to thank our outgoing aviation provider for their support of the service over the past 7 years.”

The Welsh Air Ambulance service is consultant-led, providing hospital-standard treatments to patients and direct hospital treatment if necessary, saving hours in compared to traditional road ambulances.

This high level of critical care involves the capacity to provide anaesthesia, administer blood transfusions, and perform minor procedures on the scene of an emergency.

According to the charity, it will need to fund £11.2m annually to cover the costs of aviation operations and maintenance, direct leasing of three aircraft, and quick response vehicles, and fuel.

Marwan Khalek, Gama Aviation Plc Chief Executive Officer, added: “As we bring the service online in a safe, orderly fashion I’m sure many will notice suitable differences.

“Whether it is the new aircraft livery, with its proud depiction of the Charity’s strong Welsh identity, or new pilot flight suits, that use a combination of red and black to aid identification at the scene of an incident. We will continue to explore ways to support Wales Air Ambulance’s lifesaving mission.”