‘Vital’ air ambulance services provider rescued from administration, saving 180 jobs

By Staff

A collapsed Gloucestershire company that provided helicopter emergency medical services to various UK air ambulance charities has been sold out of administration.

Specialist Aviation Services (SAS) – based out of Gloucestershire Airport – provided helicopters and pilots to the air ambulance services covering Dorset, Somerset, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Hertfordshire, the East of England and London. It also provided fleet management and servicing for a range of private organisations in the UK and in Middle East where it had operations in Kuwait and Bahrain.

The company, which supported more than 5,000 critical flights in 2023, appointed joint administrators from business advisory firm FRP on Wednesday (January 31). SAS first engaged FRP in October to run an accelerated mergers and acquisitions process, with a priority to find a solution that meant the continuation of vital air ambulance operations without disruption.

The joint administrators – Andrew Sheridan and Jonathan Dunn – have now completed a pre-pack sale of SAS to Gama Aviation – an AIM-listed business aviation specialist headquartered in Farnborough.

As part of the deal, all but two of the company’s 184 employees will transfer to Gama Aviation.

Mr Sheridan said: “This was a complex transaction, in the heavily regulated aviation sector, and key parties included aircraft financiers, global OEMs, overseas government contracts and of course the air ambulance charities. Without the support of the 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.”

According to the joint administrators, SAS had incurred “operating losses for a number of years” and had taken “significant steps” to address these financial challenges, including seeking new funding.

Mr Sheridan added: “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.”

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