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Friday, July 1, 2011

Air Methods, Omniflight Merge to Dominate HEMS

By Chris Sheppard, Associate Editor

Two of the largest providers of air medical transport sector have announced plans to join forces. Air Methods has acquired of Air Holdings Corp., parent company of Omniflight. The $200-million agreement is scheduled to close in July. Air Methods, already the largest HEMS operator in the U.S., adds Omniflight’s fleet of 95 aircraft to its already sizable portfolio of more than 300 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Omniflight’s Addison, Texas headquarters and 75 base locations throughout 18 states will help expand Air Methods’ national presence. Prior to the merger, Omniflight was the third-largest HEMS operator in the nation, behind Air Evac Lifeteam.

Omniflight will retain its brand as a wholly-owned subsidiary, according to Ed Rupert, Air Methods’ senior vice president for community-based services. The company will examine whether to establish local brands after the deal closes in July.

Also being evaluated is Omniflight’s aircraft fleet of 43 twin-engine Eurocopters, 35 single-engine Eurocopters, eight single-engine Bell helicopters and nine fixed-wing aircraft. During a conference call following the announcement, the companies noted the average age for Omniflight’s aircraft is approximately 11 to 12 years. Rupert said that there were no imminent plans to expand the fleet.

Operators who use both Air Methods and Omniflight stand to benefit from the merger, as both companies have similar service areas the merger allows for ‘important resources” to remain closer to local users and communities. The possibility of new services being implemented exists, although “no formal decisions have been made,” Rupert said.

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