The Bulgarian Ministry of Health has announced plans to acquire six emergency medical helicopters from Leonardo, for a cost of 135.6 million levs (US$74.5 million).
The ministry confirmed that it had launched direct negotiations with the manufacturer, after Leonardo emerged as the sole bidder in November, under a now-terminated public procurement procedure.
In its original bid, Leonardo submitted an offer valued at 123.4 million levs – much higher than the original maximum bid cost of 102.6 million levs outlined in the tender.
The decision not to launch a new tender was made in save time in meeting the government’s aim of acquiring its first helicopter by the end of 2023.
In light of the cancelled tender, the ministry has confirmed that additional funding for the purchase could be provided from the state budget, if the current amount proves insufficient. Leonardo is also expected to revise its original offer accordingly.
The period for direct negotiations will end on 18 January. Bulgaria is currently the only country in the European Union without an established air ambulance service.
The government of Ontario recently announced its own intention of acquiring a new fleet of eight fixed-wing aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Pilatus PC-12 NG planes.