Croatia’s government has approved a nine-month contract that will resume helicopter air ambulance services throughout the Croatian islands and in the hinterland under a different operator, while expanding the coverage of those helicopters, according to local media reports.
Dario Nakic and Joseph BuljeviÄ‡, Croatia’s ministers of health and defense, signed on Wednesday a contract approving helicopter air ambulance services year-round and in all-weather conditions. Two helicopters will be operated from bases in Split on Croatia’s southern coast and in the northern Adriatic island of Krk. The government also is considering establishing a third base in Dubrovnik for use during Croatia’s tourist season.
Italian operators Elifriulia and Airgreen, the previous contractors under a September 2015 pilot program overseen by Croatia’s health ministry and funded by the World Bank, will no longer provide the service. Elifriulia and Airgreen had operated from Split and Krk, supplementing Croatia’s air force, but had only operated during daytime hours. Their flights also had depended on patients’ weights.
That pilot program ended shortly after Croatia’s Nov. 8 elections, which ousted the standing center-left government. The new government was formed by the fiscally conservative MOST and HDZ parties, calling future helicopter contracts into question.
However, Minister NakiÄ‡ said the new service would be a financial improvement from the previous one, costing 7 million kuna over the next nine months (6 million from the Ministry of Defense and one million from the Ministry of Health), with the total annual cost of this service at 10 million kuna.