Quik Flight Enters Air Ambulance Biz

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Fractional and charter operators are finding new ways to diversify their business and carrying the sick and hurt seems to be a popular route. Like other companies have, Quik Flight, a year-old charter flight service, is starting air ambulance operations. The FAA approved the move just a few weeks ago. The company, based at Schenectady County Airport, soon will begin using its Piper Cheyenne I as a ferry for patients needing to make interstate medical runs, said Chandler Atkins, the company's president. Fixed-wing services such as Quik Flight are different from helicopter airlifts that whisk accident victims to hospitals. "Our trips are more planned," Atkins said. The region has been without a locally-based air ambulance since 2001, when Global Air Response left the market. Since then, medical charters have had to fly in from elsewhere. "We're going to have the medical team and the plane and everything right here," Atkins said. Quik Flight spent about $60,000 to outfit its lone plane with a customized stretcher and other medical equipment. Flights are priced at $3.40 a mile, or $800 an hour, the same as regular charter flights, with the cost for medical personnel charged extra. Atkins says he will continue making regular passenger charter runs, since the plane can be converted from an air ambulance to an executive shuttle in 20 minutes. Mike Paston, chairman of the fixed-wing special interest group of the Association of Air Medical Services, an international trade group based in Alexandria, Va., said there are about 40 similar services in the United States.