The air ambulance is about to pass us by again, although the procedure for selecting a contractor to carry out the flights is in the final stage. On June 1, the Acting Minister of Transport, Hristo Alexiev, approved a decision to select a contractor – the Italian company ALIDAUNIA SRL and announced that the helicopters are expected by mid-July. But the new line minister, Georgi Gvozdeikov, announced in his post that he considers the conclusion of a contract for the outsourcing of this activity to be madness, which will damage the state budget.
Gvozdeikov takes the ministerial post after a bitter standoff with the cabinet over his decision to close the company he headed, Bulgaria Heli Med Service. The “Petkov” company established by the cabinet was closed in February, and its activities were transferred to the state aviation operator. This is how the public order for the dry leasing of a helicopter announced by “Bulgaria Heli Med Service” failed. The procedure had reached the opening of bids, but was never completed and was terminated. Instead, the Ministry of Transport announced a new procedure for selecting a contractor to carry out flights, and after submitting two bids, the Italian company ALIDAUNIA SRL was announced as the winner.
The company offered a price of BGN 17,954.52 for 1 hour of flight time without VAT, with the expectation that 1,000 hours will be flown in the air in two years. Thus, the total price of the order reaches BGN 17.9 million. This amount includes the provision of equipment, crews and ground personnel. Thus, practically the entire activity is outsourced. In addition, the draft contract stipulates that the payment will be made on a monthly basis in the amount of 1/24 of the total value, that is, a fixed payment regardless of the activity.
According to Gvozdeikov, this decision is much less profitable than using a helicopter on a dry lease, such as the order announced by “Bulgaria Heli Med Service”. It was planned to hire one helicopter, with the crews belonging to the Bulgarian company and only going through training at the supplier of the machine. The estimated value of the order announced by Gvozdeikov was EUR 963,002 without VAT for one year with an option to extend without the training costs for another year (EUR 793,002).
“Why are we outsourcing an activity in the most insane way, for which Bulgaria receives funding under the PVU and is obliged to build the HEMS system? Why should an absolutely unprofitable and ineffective contract, completely damaging the state budget, be signed under such conditions?” Gvozdeikov wrote in his Facebook post. He estimates that in this way the treasury will be damaged by BGN 400,000 per month.
Yesterday, it was not clear what actions the new minister will take against this background. Gvozdeikov did not answer the question of “Now” whether he will terminate the procedure. The Public Procurement Law provides for the conclusion of a contract at least 14 days after approval of the ranking decision. The Civil Procedure Code provides limited options for terminating the procedure in such cases, but it can still be stopped as appropriate – when the need to conduct the procedure or to award a contract ceases to exist as a result of a significant change in circumstances. Apart from the two Italian helicopters, another 6 machines are being purchased under the recovery and sustainability plan project, and the first medical helicopter under this contract should be delivered by the end of the year.
“According to the contract and the provided price proposal of nearly BGN 18,000,000 excluding VAT (not including fuel, air navigation services and fees), the service described above should be performed with two helicopters for two years. This means that the Bulgarian state must pay monthly 1/24 of the total price or BGN 750,000 without VAT, regardless of whether or not there are actual flights for rescue missions. All this arouses serious bewilderment and doubt, why after the aviation business worldwide and European regulations offer the possibility to carry out the so-called “Dry leasing” (lease of a helicopter without a crew), which is many times more profitable and will effectively support the construction of the HEMS system in Bulgaria.
An example from global and European practices:
– fixed monthly price for renting two helicopters with insurance included: BGN 200,000.
(price per flight hour: 1200 – 1500 BGN)
– on the condition that they have a total of 10 flying hours for the month: BGN 15,000.
– expenses for compensation of crews and technical staff: BGN 135,000
Total cost: BGN 350,000 per month!”, calculates Gvozdeikov.
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