The national carrier, Maldivian, has added a floatplane to its air ambulance operation as part of ongoing efforts to enhance emergency medical evacuation services in the Maldives. The incorporation of the retrofitted DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft will bolster the air ambulance service, which was launched on 1 March with a converted Dash-8 200 Series aircraft.

Introducing the seaplane air ambulance is a critical component of President Mohamed Muizzu’s commitment to improving emergency medical evacuation and healthcare services. Despite the presence of numerous airports across the country, many inhabited islands remain isolated due to their geographical distance from these facilities.

Speaking to the public broadcaster, Ali Saleem, the Deputy Managing Director of Island Aviation Services Limited (IAS) – the holding company of Maldivian- said; “The seaplane is a crucial addition to the air ambulance services, particularly for the transfer of critical care patients from the outer islands.”

“The seaplane is fitted with all the necessary life-supporting medical equipment, similar to those provided in a wheel-based air ambulance. Initially, it will operate within a specific range, covering islands between Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll in the north, and Huvadhu Atoll in the south,” he said.

President Muizzu had previously pledged to transport patients to Thailand in the converted Dash 8 aircraft, which may need a stop-over. The Dash 8 aircraft will also carry patients to India and Sri Lanka, with arrangements already in place with Sri Lankan authorities for medical evacuation flights.

Since the launch of the air ambulance service, an average of 2-3 critical care patients have been transported daily to healthcare facilities in Malé for further treatment, said Saleem. Air ambulances are used exclusively to transport critical care patients requiring emergency medical evacuation.

“Since then [1 March], the air ambulance has completed over 25 medical flights across the Maldives,” according to a statement by Maldivian.