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‘Critical’ air ambulance provider rescued from administration

Specialist Aviation Service had reported losses for several years and needed to seek new funding.

Jamel Smith
Thursday 01 February 2024 16:13 GMT
The firm, Specialist Aviation Service, which is based at Gloucestershire Airport, supported more than 5,000 ambulance flights in 2023 (Alamy/PA)
The firm, Specialist Aviation Service, which is based at Gloucestershire Airport, supported more than 5,000 ambulance flights in 2023 (Alamy/PA)

An aviation firm supplying “critical” air ambulance services across the South of England has been saved from administration.

The firm, Specialist Aviation Service, which is based at Gloucestershire Airport, supported more than 5,000 ambulance flights in 2023.

It provided helicopters and pilots for air ambulance services that cover Dorset and Somerset, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, Essex and Hearts, East of England and London.

The company had sustained operating losses for several years and needed to seek new funding.

The goal from the outset of our involvement was to ensure that the vital air ambulance operations continued without disruption, which they did

Andrew Sheridan, partner at advisory firm FRP

It hired administrators from advisory firm FRP on Wednesday after failing to secure solvent sales.

On Thursday, its assets were sold to Gama Aviation, an aviation specialist headquartered in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Out of the company’s 184 employees, all of them except for two will be transferring to Gama Aviation as part of the deal.

Andrew Sheridan, partner at FRP and joint administrator of Specialist Aviation Services, said: “This was a complex transaction, in the heavily regulated aviation sector, and key parties included aircraft financiers, global OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), overseas government contracts and of course the air ambulance charities.

“Without the support of the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) who mobilised a senior team and worked at speed, this transaction could not have happened and we wish to extend our gratitude to them, as well as to the Company’s senior management team.

We take great satisfaction in ensuring that lives continued to be saved throughout the process and wish Gama and its newly acquired operations, highly skilled operatives and pilots, every success in the future

Andrew Sheridan, partner at advisory firm FRP

“The goal from the outset of our involvement was to ensure that the vital air ambulance operations continued without disruption, which they did.

“We take great satisfaction in ensuring that lives continued to be saved throughout the process and wish Gama and its newly acquired operations, highly skilled operatives and pilots, every success in the future.”

This comes as the number of company insolvencies hit a 30-year high in 2023 as firms suffered amid high-interest rates and cost pressures.

Figures from the Insolvency Service revealed that 25,158 firms across England and Wales went bust last year – up 14% on 2022 and the highest annual number since 1993.

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