WALES Air Ambulance has confirmed that its Caernarfon and Welshpool bases will be running until at least 2026.

The news came as the charity announced its new aviation contract with Gama Aviation.

As the new contract begins on January 2024 the charity has decided to not make any changes for at least 18 months after the contract - meaning any potential move will not take place until 2026.

Dr Sue Barnes, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Our aim is to protect our services for the people of Wales while continually seeking improvements in service and availability.

“Proposed service improvements are the subject of a public engagement led by the Chief Ambulance Services Commissioner, to which we will contribute via an independent submission.

“However, time is moving on and with Gama Aviation taking over on 1 January 2024, pragmatic decisions have had to be taken.

“Given the need to ensure continuity of service and mindful of the need to give our airbase landlords some commercial certainty, we will commence our new aviation contact with our current four-base model. This will allow the Commissioner to conclude the process while allowing us to protect our lifesaving service.”

The announcement comes during an independent review of the Charity’s NHS medical partners, the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS), which is being undertaken by the Chief Ambulance Services Commissioner.

This has been reflected in the new aviation contract, which can adapt to potential future service delivery changes if required (revised base locations, revised operational hours, enhanced after-dark flying).

The new Gama contract, valued at £65million, 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.


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It additionally includes a backup H145 helicopter to ensure service continuity during periods of maintenance for the primary fleet. 

Marwan Khalek, Gama Aviation Chief Executive Officer, said: “I’m delighted that we will be partnering with the Charity, supporting their lifesaving mission that delivers an essential service to communities across the country.

"We look forward to working closely with the Charity’s team as we stand up the flight and maintenance crews, aircraft and other resources that are required to support the people of Wales.”

David Gilbert, Wales Air Ambulance chair of trustees, said: “After a robust procurement process, we are delighted to announce Gama Aviation as our next aviation partner.

"They are 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 them in the years to come."

Rhun ap Iorwerth, Ynys Môn MS, welcome the news, and thanked those who "worked tirelessly" to achieve this outcome.

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He said: “Now, it’s important that we continue to make the case that there is a need for the charity’s four bases, in the four different parts of Wales, to remain open permanently.

“The Air Ambulance means so much to all of us, and we can continue to support it financially, knowing it provides the best possible service to all areas in Wales, particularly our rural areas that are so reliant on it.”

In a joint statement, Liz Saville Roberts MP, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) and Hywel Williams MP and Sian Gwenllian MS (Arfon) added: "This is great news.

"Huge congratulations to everyone across northwest and mid Wales involved in the campaign, who worked so hard to persuade the Air Ambulance charity to maintain operations at Caernarfon and Welshpool.

"The Wales Air Ambulance is dear to us all, and that is why we approached this situation as critical friends, whilst ensuring that the specific concerns of far-to-reach communities such as Pen Llŷn and south Meirionnydd were heard."