British Airways’ decision to stop carrying stretchers from 01 June 05 will have serious implications for all passengers. This is the view of Gary Andrews, Director, Travel & Leisure at Europ Assistance. Europ Assistance is a pioneer in the medical assistance industry with over 40 years experience and currently looks after 100 million customers worldwide annually.
The major effects of this decision are increased use of air ambulances and air taxis and an increased journey time for repatriating sick or injured patients. In turn, such effects will impact significantly on the travelling public.
Andrews explains, ‘As well the obvious safety issues, the worry about a shortage of air ambulances, the possibilities of delays in repatriating patients whilst waiting for a suitable aircraft and the problems of accommodating families and friends accompanying the patient, I have to ask what the travelling public would prefer. Having suffered an injury or become ill overseas, repatriation by your country’s leading airline can be a comfort. It also begs the question as to how British Airways Holidays and Executive Club customers, who have bought their travel insurance from British Airways, and who then need to return on a stretcher, will be returning home?’