Groundbreaking decisions at Air Zermatt
Air Zermatt was able to look back on a very good year on Friday afternoon at its 54th general meeting on Riffelalp above Zermatt. The shareholders were presented with groundbreaking decisions that the company has taken. It was noted with pleasure that the air rescue service in the Valais was awarded to the two Valais companies in the tender.
Air Zermatt posted excellent figures for the past business year. In addition, Chairman of the Board of Directors Philipp Perren emphasised that Air Zermatt carried out a total of over 2,100 rescue missions by helicopter in 2022, thus exceeding the 2,000-mark for the first time. Air Zermatt also set a new record for ambulance missions with over 1,200 missions.
The past year was also otherwise eventful and of great importance for Air Zermatt. In 2022, far-reaching decisions were made for the future of the company, but also for the Valais.
Two new helicopters
The EC 130 helicopter has been put up for sale and another Ecureuil B3 has been purchased instead. The new helicopter arrived in time for Air Zermatt's 55th anniversary, which was celebrated at the Raron base during the Swiss Helicopter Days in May 2023. Air Zermatt had already decided to purchase another Bell 429 rescue helicopter. This decision was taken in view of the new air rescue system in the Valais, which the KWRO had decided on in response to the consultation process. The new rescue helicopter will arrive in September and thus strengthen Air Zermatt's fleet in time for the start of the winter season.
24-hour base in Gampel
As early as 2020, Air Zermatt made the decision that the Gampel base should be manned around the clock from the summer of 2021, thus guaranteeing short turnaround times. After construction delays, the time had finally come at the beginning of 2022: the Gampel base was manned around the clock by a crew consisting of pilots, paramedics and an emergency doctor, enabling release times of less than 10 minutes. Furthermore, the Zermatt base also remained manned around the clock during the season. In addition, a second crew is always on standby, which is alerted as soon as the first crew is on duty. This means that, in addition to the helicopters provided for in the cantonal regulations, a second or third helicopter can be made available with a nightly release time of twenty minutes or even less.
Change of leadership at the helm of Air Zermatt
In autumn 2023, the long-time CEO and pilot of Air Zermatt, Gerold Biner, will reach his 60th birthday. According to the legal age guillotine, he will then no longer be allowed to carry out commercial passenger transport. For this reason, Gerold Biner has decided to retire at the end of the year. In November, the Board of Directors made the decision to appoint Daniel Aufdenblatten, an experienced Air Zermatt pilot, as the new CEO. "We are convinced that this is an excellent choice and that Daniel Aufdenblatten has the potential and the skills to continue the spirit of Air Zermatt successfully," said Chairman of the Board Philipp Perren before the shareholders' meeting. Gerold Biner will finish the current business year before Daniel Aufdenblatten takes over from January 2024.
Success for Air Zermatt in the tender for the air rescue service
The bidding process for the first air rescue service in the canton of Valais required considerable effort. It was therefore extremely gratifying for those responsible and the entire company that Air Zermatt in the Upper Valais and Air-Glaciers in the Lower Valais were awarded the contract by the Cantonal Valais Rescue Organisation KWRO in November 2022. Nevertheless, there are still outstanding extensive proceedings against the award of air rescue due to complaints by the losing competitors REGA and Héli-Alpes. Philipp Perren comments: "We are convinced that the Valais rescue system in its current form, in which all rescue means and forces, whether on foot, by ambulance or by air rescue, are coordinated by a single body, guarantees the best, fastest and most efficient care for patients. Moreover, with four or six bases and six to ten rescue helicopters, Valais has by far the densest air rescue system, at least in Switzerland, but probably even worldwide."