Gama takes off early on Wales Air Ambulance contract


Gama Aviation is operating a main fleet of four Airbus H145 helicopters in Wales.

Business aviation services company Gama Aviation has made an early start on its contract to take over Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) flights for the Wales Air Ambulance Charity. Gama was to start the seven-year contract next month. But, to speed the transfer of services ahead of the holidays, Gama has now assumed responsibility for the flights.

According to the charity: “Gama Aviation was due to start operations on January 1st 2024, with the previous contract ending on December 31st. 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.”

The contract, valued at £65m and first revealed in February 2023, covers the operation and maintenance of a main fleet of four Airbus H145 helicopters, operating from the charity’s current sites in Dafen, Cardiff, Caernarfon and Welshpool. It also includes a backup H145 helicopter to ensure service continuity during periods of maintenance for the primary fleet.

The new fleet will replace three H145 helicopters and one smaller EC135 helicopter. As part of the new contract, the EC135 aircraft has been replaced with a H145. The new aircraft will give the charity “a consistent fleet of advanced helicopters to deliver Wales’ vital ambulance service”, it said.  The charity will take on the direct lease for three of the H145 aircraft.

Gama told the London Stock Exchange in February: “The company will invest in standing-up the operation, deploying the requisite capabilities, and other working capital requirements during H2 [first half], 2023 to enable the service delivery on 1st January 2024.  This circa £2.4M of investment will be funded from the group’s working capital resources and facilities.  The two helicopters to be supplied by the group will be procured under operating or finance leases for the term of the contract award.”

Marwan Khalek, CEO, Gama Aviation said recently the company was delighted to start its responsibilities to the charity earlier than scheduled. “As we bring the service online in a safe, orderly fashion I’m sure many will notice suitable differences,” said Khalek. “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.”

David Gilbert, chair of trustees, Wales Air Ambulance thanked all parties in the 12-month transition. “We are also 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,” he said. “It just goes to show how passionate they are about serving Wales and saving lives.” Gilbert also thanked the outgoing aviation provider for its support over the past seven years.