Now, a cashless air ambulance service from Tier-II cities to metros

Book Air Ambulance makes service available to members, forges tie-ups with insurance, pharmaceutical, diagnostic companies

Published - May 14, 2020 01:31 am IST - Mumbai

Online air ambulance service provider, Book Air Ambulance, on Wednesday unveiled a cashless air ambulance service for transporting member-patients in emergency from tier-II cities to the metros.

The service will be available on an annual membership of ₹5,000 plus GST. The firm has also tied with an insurance company, as well as pharmaceutical and diagnostic firms.

“We are the first aviation company to come up with a programme like cashless air ambulance that will bring air ambulance services to Indians,” said Captain Amit Kumar, founder and CEO, Flaps Aviation Private Ltd.

“This will be an exclusive online membership programme whereby individuals from any city or a town can access and avail of this lifesaving facility for themselves or their family members in a distress situation,” he said.

Book Air Ambulance is a venture of Flaps Aviation Private Limited and operates with three King Air C90 aircraft, one of which is owned, and two leased.

Medical transfers of patients by air have always been considered to be a costly affair, available to the high-income group. Factors such as distance, flying time, the cost of hiring an aircraft, bed-to-bed transfer charges and cost of deployment of medical crew members have made the service exorbitant. The cost ranges from ₹2.5 lakh to ₹18 lakh per patient transfer, depending on the distance.

As a cashless service, a member can shift a critically ill patient by air to any preferred super-specialty hospital in any city in the country swiftly under the strict supervision of medical crew, thereby enhancing the chances of the patient’s survival, Captain Kumar said. “We hope to change the entire ecosystem of the air medical evacuation segment.”

Book Air Ambulance will provide one airlifting completely free of cost to a member for a specific critical medical emergency anywhere in India. It will also grant a 50% discount on air tariff or normal air ambulance charges on all other patient transfers during the year.

The cashless air ambulance membership programme will provide safety cover to a family of six.

“We have observed that there has been a growing number of critical patients who come with cardiac arrests, road accidents, neurological issues, and so on from Tier-II and -III towns. They need immediate medical evacuation and access for advanced treatments,” Captain Kumar said.

By bringing the air ambulance services in the medical insurance bracket, Flaps Aviation is set to augment its own growth as well as that of the sector.

On the company’s future plans, Suresh Pai, head (finance), Flaps Aviation, said, “We are eyeing 30% to 35% growth in the next three years by adding one lakh customers. Once this programme is geared up, we will increase the number of aircraft. The expansion will be funded through internal accruals and external funding. We are discussing with corporates to provide this service to their employees.”

In the past three years, the company has reported a growth of 25% on a year-on-year basis.

During the lockdown, the company has operated nearly 22 flights for medical evacuation, which includes shifting of non-COVID-19 patients to hospitals as well as shifting bodies.

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