Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Fort Lauderdale air ambulance firms to operate jointly: Collaboration also means better service, expanded network

Two longtime Fort Lauderdale-based competitors in the air ambulance business have merged to save on costs and help customers.

Aero Jet International and Air Ambulance Professionals combined operations this month, but will keep their names and existing hangars at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Dawn Cerbone, executive director of the merged company, said Tuesday.

In explaining a rationale for the merger, Cerbone said the companies were "identical" in many ways.

The companies target vacationers with travel insurance, but serve all customers in need of urgent hospital care, Cerbone said.

The merger means Aero Jet/Air Ambulance now has an expanded network, more pilots and more medical equipment.

The accredited medical team and pilots will be based at Air Ambulance's hangar, while the corporate office and dispatch staff will operate from Aero Jet's.

Jointly the companies have a fleet of five Learjet 35As in Fort Lauderdale, where they mainly serve customers nationwide and in Central and South America. The Learjet has a maximum cruising speed of 500 mph and can cruise at up to 45,000 feet.

The fuel-efficient Learjet 35As can fly up to five hours nonstop, and have a large cabin space to accommodate critical care patients, according to Air Ambulance's website.

A Cessna 402 twin-engine aircraft in Puerto Rico serves the Caribbean.

Within 12 to 18 months, Aero Jet/Air Ambulance plans to have more than 10 planes, which would make it the largest dedicated air ambulance service provider in the nation that uses airplanes instead of helicopters, Cerbone said.

The financial terms of the merger weren't disclosed.

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