The plans were outlined by AMREF’s Chief Pilot Ephraim Murigu, who said: “We are looking to expand into newer markets, to fly all the way to the US, all the way to Australia, and to grow our capacity to serve the African market from any point in Africa at competitive pricing for our clients.”
Mugiru also confirmed that the organization may also add a second Cessna 680 Sovereign to its fleet in the next few years. AMREF acquired its first Cessna Citation Sovereign in 2021 – which it says has played a critical role in expanding the market it served.
“We’ve done missions from Africa to China, missions from Africa all the way to northern Europe – Stockholm, Denmark, Norway, Far East-Bali, Hong Kong and remote Indian Ocean Island, Maldives, Diego Carcia, Toku Island in Tonga,” said Murigu. “We were able now to work closely with partners in the US to repatriate patients all the way to anywhere in America.”
The jet has also proven beneficial in overcoming many of the hurdles imposed by the pandemic and associated international travel restrictions. Mugiru continued: “With the jet, we were able to overcome some of those [pandemic] restrictions in certain countries, by dropping a patient and positioning to another country that was more favourable for layovers of our crews. Also, the demand for Covid patient transfers was high and with these aircraft we were able to serve that market very well.”
Short-term strategy is still to maximise efficiency
However, Mugiru explained that while his organization had big ambitions to expand in the coming years, AMREF’s immediate strategy over the next three years was to maximise the use of its existing fixed-wing fleet, which comprises five aircraft:
- One Cessna Citation XLS Jet C560 on lease purchase
- One Cessna Citation Bravo Jet C550 on lease-purchase
- One Citation Sovereign C680 on lease-purchase
- Two fully-owned Pilatus PC-12s.
The new strategy would mark a new wave of expansion for AMREF’s radius of operations. The past decade has seen AMREF expand its operations to West Africa, South Africa, Egypt following the modernization of its fleet in 2016; and further afield in 2018, when it began conducting missions to the islands in the Indian Ocean and mid-Atlantic, as well as carrying out medevac missions to Europe and North America.
AMREF Flying Doctors also recently signed a partnership deal in late March with the NCBA Group financial services conglomerate, to offer medical evacuation service discounts to NCBA customers.