Aero-medical evacuation specialist SOS International is claiming to have carried out the first direct operation across the Taiwan Straits following an agreement earlier this year permitting such flights.
Managing director of the company’s China operation, John Williams, says the deal was struck between China’s Cross-Straits Aviation Transport Exchange and the Taipei Airlines Association.
The company says the first operational flight under the new regime was made on 14 September when a 71 year-old Taiwanese man was repatriated after suffering a stroke while visiting relatives in Gongguan in Guangdong province.
A specialist team was flown from Beijing in a Hawker 800XP air ambulance and accompanied the man on his flight to Taipei before he was taken to a local hospital.
International SOS medical director for the North Asia region, Dr Charles van Reenen, says in a statement: “Prior to the availability of a direct service across the Taiwan Straits, patients who are required to be evacuated or repatriated to Taiwan from Southern China have to travel by road ambulance to Shenzhen or Macau before they can be transported by commercial or charter flight to Taiwan.
“In this particular case, the travel time is reduced by three to four hours because we no longer have to do a stopover, go through customs clearance and transfer the patient from the road ambulance to the air ambulance.”