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Now a free air ambulance service. But conditions apply

A novel idea hopes to attract customers, beyond HNIs. But many things have to fall in place

May 13, 2020 / 06:54 PM IST

Now book an air ambulance for 'free'. But conditions apply.

That's the pitch of Book Air Ambulance, an eight-year-old air ambulance service provider in Mumbai that has come out with a new scheme to attract customers, beyond just the high net worth individual (HNI) class.

This is how it works. One can sign up with a yearly membership of Rs 5,000, and one airlift will be 'completely cashless (free-of-cost)'. But, adds the company, this could be for "specific critical medical emergencies anywhere in India."

The company, which launched the new service on May 13, added that members will get a 50 percent discount on every subsequent air transfer. The firm, which till now has done 3,500 flights till its inception, hopes the new offer will get it a subscriber base of a lakh, in three years.

The service, promises founder and CEO Captain Amit Kumar, "will bring air ambulance services within the ambit of every Indian."

But how can an airlift, which by the company's own admission can come with a bill of anywhere between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 18 lakh, be provided for free for a specific ailment or at half the cost? The operating cost is about Rs 70,000 an hour.

Much of the viability of the model will depend on how much the company is able to scale its operations, on its success in getting one lakh subscribers. It also plans to expand its fleet from the present three King Air C90 aircraft.

Also critical will the company's plan to rope in an insurance partner, who could include the air ambulance cost in the policy. At present, some of the insurers provide air ambulance in their policies, but it is capped up to Rs 1 lakh.

But with health insurance premiums already increasing by up to 40 percent, it remains to be seen how much an air service adds to the cost.

Interestingly, the company said it had operated 22 flights for medical evacuation during the lockdown. But these were not COVID-19 patients.

Moneycontrol News
first published: May 13, 2020 03:58 pm