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Gama Aviation to provide air ambulance in UAE

Dubai: Gama Aviation, an executive air charter company, has announced plans to provide an air ambulance in the region by 2014.

Gama, which currently runs the Scottish air ambulance with up to 4,000 flights yearly, is looking to expand into the UAE and the Mena region. The decision is part of a larger plan to gain market share in the region, as the company noted a 70 per cent increase in movements on an annual basis.

“We believe there’s a great demand in the market for [an air ambulance]. Dubai is increasingly becoming known as a centre for medical excellence,” general manager Richard Lineveldt said.

“We know people get evacuated from regional places that are maybe underserved by medical facilities to come and utilise the really strong network of infrastructure that Dubai’s got for medical services and we believe Gama can bring its expertise over the last 25 years,” he added.

Lineveldt said there was no time span for the project but said it was their major focus for 2014.

While private jets occupy a small percentage of the total aviation market, Lineveldt said it remains a significant part of the market.

“Private jets are maybe less than one per cent [of the market] but it’s a powerful one per cent. It is a very small portion of aviation but very intricate because people who fly with us are the decision makers and royalty,” he said.

Lineveldt also discussed the current state of the business aviation market saying it has recovered after what was expected to be a longer period, and forecasted it will move in good momentum over the next 18 months.

Discussing future projects, Lineveldt said the company needs to increase maintenance abilities to better service a wider range of aircraft. He said Gama opened an office in Jeddah two years ago, and is working hard to establish a name and brand in Saudi Arabia.

The company’s latest project was a $5 million investment in a new facility in Scotland last week. Indeed, Gama has been expanding over the last two years. Its current projects in the UAE include working with UAE-based clients, as well as a recent VIP handling facility in Sharjah, which provides various services for VIP flights.

“I can’t emphasise enough how important the Middle East is for us. It’s a significant part of our business. This is the focus; just bringing new benefits to the people down here,” said marketing director Andy Patsalides.