Cartersville-based Phoenix Air won a 10-year contract worth $500 million from the U.S. State Department for air ambulance evacuations and short-notice flights for U.S. diplomatic missions around the world.
The aviation company based at the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport has been a government contractor for decades, and has done work for the U.S. Department of Defense, NATO, the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies.
Phoenix Air gained national attention for a contract with the State Dept. in 2014 during the Ebola epidemic, when the company flew patient Dr. Kent Brantly from Monrovia, Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The company flew a total of 40 Ebola-related flights through 2016. It had developed an airborne biocontainment system with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011.
“All of these rapid response aircraft are configured as an ICU in the sky,” said Phoenix Air medical director Michael Flueckiger in a written statement.
In 2017, Phoenix Air flew the State Department’s mission into Pyongyang to fly student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in North Korea and in a coma, to the United States. And the company helped to evacuate U.S. Embassy personnel from Caracas, Venezuela amid unrest.
But “the scope of this new contract with the Department of State represents a major expansion of tasks to respond to crisis requirements world-wide,” said Phoenix Air president Mark Thompson in a written statement.
It will include rapid response to threats to U.S. diplomatic missions and air ambulance evacuations for those with severe infectious diseases, according to Phoenix Air. The contract award comes as Ebola is on the rise in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk called Phoenix Air “the gold standard when it comes to providing specialized aviation services” in a written statement.
The contract as described on a government contracting website is for “Services of an air transportation company with access to a wide variety of airplanes of varying sizes and capabilities that will provide movement anywhere in the world on short notice, tailored in size and configuration to the specific facts and circumstances of a particular mission,” including medical evacuation missions, deployment/retrieval of government personnel and mission critical equipment and other functions.
Phoenix Air -- which has offices in the United States, Germany, Malta and Kenya -- has more than 40 aircraft, with planes stationed around the world to launch when needed by the State Department.
Its medical division has more than 40 doctors, flight nurses and flight paramedics on call.
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