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Air Ambulance Services Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Service Operator (Hospital-Based, Independent, Government), By Aircraft Type (Fixed-Wing, Rotary-Wing), By Application (Inter-Facility, Rescue Helicopter Services, Organ Transplant Logistics, Others), and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Region : Global | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI102577



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The global air ambulance services market size was USD 4.10 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with air ambulance services witnessing a negative demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a decline of 8.4% in 2020 compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 4.89 billion in 2021 to USD 9.58 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 10.1% during the 2021-2028 period. The sudden rise in CAGR is attributable to the market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.

Over the last three decades, air ambulance services have evolved significantly. The earlier focus on providing rapid transport to critically injured or ill patients has now changed to providing critical care to the patient during transport. The number of helicopters and fixed-wing aircrafts providing such services in the U.S. has grown from around 39 in 1980 to 1,429 in 2016, highlighting the rapid growth of express air medical transportation services.

Technological developments in air ambulances are another trend, which is expected to reshape the future of emergency medical services. In December 2020, an Australian air medical services provider, CareFlight, and an electric aircraft company, AMSL Aero, unveiled Vertiia, an electric air ambulance with a cruising speed of 300 km per hour up to 250 km on electric power and 800 km on hydrogen power.

COVID-19 Pandemic to Lead to Lower Demand for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS)     

The overall impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this market has been negative. The industry is seeing a lower demand in the overall patient volume due to the high risk of infection, even if the pandemic has provided the opportunity to transport COVID-19 patients.

  • In April 2020, the Association of Air Medical Services requested USD 816 million in funding to cover the losses suffered by air ambulance service providers due to the almost 40% drop in patient volume experienced during the peak level of the pandemic.

Travel restrictions have impacted the provision of services to neighboring countries. In contrast, various restrictions and safety guidelines have increased the cost of air medical service providers due to measures such as screening, testing, and updating equipment.

  • European Air Ambulance, one of the region’s largest air medical services providers, developed new protocols in October 2020 to transport COVID-19 patients.

As we discussed above, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to transport COVID-19 patients from rural areas, states, or countries that faced a shortage of ICU beds or specialized equipment during this pandemic

  • Life Flight Network, an air ambulance provider in the U.S., transported 600 COVID-19 patients in 2020.


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Surge in Usage of Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD) to Favor Growth

An advanced technology demonstrator (ATD) is an S-Band dual-polarized phased array designed especially for emergency medical services. A conventional air ambulance consists of a fixed-wing to transmit radio waves over clouds, a receiver to detect the precipitation, and uses a dish rotary-wing that rotates and tilts to gather data. On the other hand, an ATD consists of a flat panel incorporated with several small rotary wings that broadcast radio waves and collect reflections from the atmosphere. This phased array system allows the radar to be driven electronically.

ATD is the first radar that is integrated with both dual-polarization and phased array technology. ATD uses dual-polarization technology to detect dry hail, snow, and clear air turbulence, which cannot be identified with the conventional air ambulance.


Increasing Rates of Trauma, Stroke, and Heart Attacks to Propel Demand for Air Medical Services

Air ambulance services are increasingly being used to transport patients suffering from a stroke, heart attack, or a traumatic incident that requires time-sensitive therapies in a critical care center.

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Around 0.8 million Americans and a million people in Europe suffer from a stroke annually.

  • Over 4 million people are seriously injured in road accidents in the U.S. every year.

  • Cardiovascular diseases account for over 18 million deaths globally every year.

Time-dependent medical or surgical intervention is required in many cases of trauma, stroke, and heart attacks. For example, the quick restoration of blood flow to the brain with the help of an emergency IV injection of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator or an endovascular procedure is critical for treating ischemic stroke.

Aging Population and Growing Prevalence of Chronic Diseases Will Lead to a Surge in Demand for Air Ambulance Services

According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, people aged 65 years and over are projected to be more than double from 703 million in 2019 to around 1.5 billion in 2050 in the U.K. Major economies, such as Japan and Germany, are already super-aged nations, with people aged 65 years and over accounting for 28% and 22% of the population, respectively. The aging population is one of the key reasons for the growth in the prevalence of chronic diseases.

  • Today, 60% of adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic condition, and 40% of adults have two or more chronic conditions.

  • It is estimated that over 425 million adults worldwide have diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed).

The growing prevalence of chronic diseases will result in a considerable increase in the number of life-threatening medical emergencies or patients that lack immediate access to a healthcare facility, thereby driving the demand for air medical services.

Rapid Technological Advancements in Air Ambulance Services to Drive Market Growth

Advancements in air ambulances are happening around the level of care provided to the patients being transported with the help of modern and innovative medical devices. Besides, the technologically advanced communication systems allow the transfer of real-time data of a patient's health to the experts at the hospital, allowing the doctors to prepare for the emergency in advance.

Air ambulances are now equipped with critical care equipment, such as a ventilator, heart monitor, and defibrillator, to provide emergency medical care to patients.

Below are some of the important technological advancements made in emergency medical services aircraft amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In May 2020, EHang, a leading manufacturer of Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAV), successfully transferred medical professionals, staff and medical supplies in its two-seated passenger drone. Additionally, EHang and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) jointly develop an ambulance drone, Ambular, to efficiently tackle health care emergencies.

  • In September 2020, India’s first-ever integrated air ambulance was jointly launched by Kyathi and the International Critical Air Transfer Team (ICATT). The fixed-wing aircraft ambulance is equipped with an isolation pod to enable the safe transport of critical patients affected by COVID-19.

The improvement in the medical infrastructure backed by AAV development is expected to contribute to the global air ambulance services market growth during the forecast period.


High Cost of Air Medical Services and Reimbursement Challenges May Hamper Growth

The air ambulance service charges are significantly higher than the ground ambulance services.

Although some level of coverage is available for air ambulance services in the U.S. under government and private health insurance, the reimbursement rates are quite low compared to the billing of air medical service providers. Medicare and Medicaid cover about 60% and 34% of the average air medical transport cost leaving the patients to bear a huge out-of-pocket expense in many cases.

Stringent Regulations Related to Emergency Medical Services to Hinder Market Growth

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board have imposed strict protocols that every air medical service operator must follow. According to a report published by Helioffshore, from 2013 to 2018, there were over 59 helicopter accidents. The FAA has placed specific rules to reduce the risk of fatalities and accidents while offering any emergency medical service.

Recently, the demand for air ambulance services increased owing to the lockdown across several countries, allowing only emergency medical services to operate since the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the overwhelming process of obtaining permission from the government and mandatory COVID-19 tests has slowed down operations.

In April 2020, the Indian Ministry issued a clarification stating that medical evacuation flights should not be permitted without government permission.

  • According to the new norms, air ambulance operators need to get permission from district authorities of both departure and arrival destination cities, valid documents from the hospital and doctor about the patient’s details, COVID-19 test results, and a NOC from the state health department. Owing to the lengthy procedures and restrictions, only a few companies are offering air medical services.

Thus, stringent norms and lengthy procedures are expected to hinder the growth of the market.


By Service Operator Analysis

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Independent Segment to Dominate Market in Forthcoming Years

Based on the service operator, the market is divided into hospital-based, independent, and government.

The independent segment is anticipated to be the largest segment during the forecast period due to increasing partnerships between private players and community health organizations.

  • For instance, in July 2020, GAMA Aviation was awarded a five-year contract by the Government of Jersey and the Government of Guernsey to provide air ambulance services between Channel Island and the U.K. mainland.

The hospital-based segment is projected to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period. The growth of the segment is attributed to the improving business model of hospitals.

By Aircraft Type Analysis

Rotary-wing to be Fastest-growing Segment Fueled by Surging Demand for HEMS amid COVID-19

Based on the aircraft type, the market is classified into fixed-wing and rotary-wing. The rotary-wing segment is predicted to be the largest and fastest-growing segment during the forecast period owing to the surging demand for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) during the COVID-19 epidemic. Moreover, the increasing development of helicopters by key manufacturers dedicated to providing healthcare services is predicted to support market growth.

  • In January 2019, Airbus added 250 helicopters to HCare Smart, which leads to a total count of 2250 helicopters. Airbus now has 19% of its worldwide fleet dedicated to HCare.

The fixed-wing segment is anticipated to grow substantially during the forecast period. The segment's growth is attributed to the wide range of services provided by fixed-wing aircraft, such as aero-medical transportation, medical escort service, repatriation, and critical care patient transportation.

By Application Analysis

Organ Transplant Logistics Segment to Exhibit Significant Growth Fueled by Rising Organ Donations

Based on the application, the market is divided into inter-facility, rescue helicopter services, organ transplant logistics, and others.

A rise in the number of cardiac patients requiring immediate medical attention is likely to augment the inter-facility segment's growth.

The rescue helicopter service segment is expected to dominate the market during the forecast period owing to the high demand for rescue helicopters to transport patients from remote locations.

The organ transplant logistics segment is anticipated to grow at a high CAGR during the forecast period. A rise in organ donation is expected to increase the rate of organ transplants, which, in turn, would surge the demand for organ transportation.


North America Air Ambulance Services Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The global market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Rest of the world.

North America stood at USD 1.96 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to dominate the market due to the presence of several air medical service providers and the availability of advanced medical facilities in the region. Air Methods, Air Medical Group Holdings, Acadian Companies, and PHI Air Medical are some of the major players in the U.S.

The market in Europe is expected to grow significantly during the forecast period. The increasing investment by key players to develop and adopt advanced technologies that will improve air ambulance service operations is likely to drive the growth of the global market.

  • For instance, in May 2018, the British Columbia Ambulance Service invested in enhancing its air ambulance program. The program included the adoption of night vision technology to improve emergency service quality in low-light conditions.

The market in Asia-Pacific is projected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The improving economy of emerging countries, such as China and India, and the increasing healthcare sector investment by governments are anticipated to fuel market growth.

The growing population, continued economic growth, rising tourism, and the improving investment in the health care sector will support growth of air ambulance operations in the Middle East.


Air Methods Corporation is a Leader in Offering Air Ambulance Services with its Large Aircraft Fleet

Air Methods Corporation provides emergency air medical transport and treatment services through helicopters in rural and urban areas. High investments in integrating air safety programs and advanced technologies will help the company sustain its market position.

The market competition has raised the standards for new entrants, thereby challenging major players based on their services' quality and price. Thus, key players, such as Air Methods Corporation, focus on strategic mergers & acquisitions to endure their global market positions.



  • October 2020 – LifeSaver, a subsidiary of Air Methods Corporation, announced to open a new operation base in Evergreen, Alabama, the U.S., to provide emergency air medical services.

  • May 2020 – AirMed International, a Global Medical Response Inc. subsidiary, announced that the company procured a fixed-wing, medically configured Hawker 800XP aircraft for its Birmingham, Alabama base.

  • April 2020 – REVA Inc. announced that the company has started to provide its life-saving service to the COVID-19 positive patients. The company declared to follow all possible steps to maintain safety. Thus, it has constructed a new isolation unit in the air ambulance, the ISOVAC CAPSULS™ Patient Isolation Unit.


An Infographic Representation of Air Ambulance Services Market

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The global air ambulance services market report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on key aspects, such as key service providers, air ambulance types, applications, and services. Moreover, the report offers insights into the latest trends and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the market research report encompasses several direct and indirect factors that have contributed to the growth of the market over recent years.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (USD Billion)


  Service Operator; Aircraft Type; Application and Geography

By Service Operator

  • Hospital-Based

  • Independent

  • Government

By Aircraft Type

  • Fixed-Wing

  • Rotary-Wing

By Application

  • Inter-Facility

  • Rescue Helicopter Services

  • Organ Transplant Logistics

  • Others

By Geography


  • North America (By Service Operator, Aircraft Type, Application, and Country)

    • The U.S. (By Service Operator)

    • Canada (By Service Operator)

  • Europe (By Service Operator, Aircraft Type, Application, and Country)

    • The U.K. (By Service Operator)

    • Germany (By Service Operator)

    • France (By Service Operator)

    • Italy (By Service Operator)

    • Rest of Europe (By Service Operator)

  • Asia-Pacific (By Service Operator, Aircraft Type, Application, and Country)

    • China (By Service Operator)

    • India (By Service Operator)

    • Japan (By Service Operator)

    • Australia (By Service Operator)

    • Rest of Asia-Pacific (By Service Operator)

  • Rest of the World (By Service Operator, Aircraft Type, Application, and Country)

    • South America (By Service Operator)

    • The Middle East & Africa (By Service Operator)

Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 4.10 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 9.58 billion by 2028.

Registering a CAGR of 10.1% the market will exhibit steady growth during the forecast period (2021-2028).

The rescue helicopter services segment is expected to lead this market owing to the increasing demand for helicopter services for rescue operations amid COVID-19.

Air Methods Corporation is the leading player in the global market.

North America dominated the market in terms of share in 2020.

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Air Ambulance Services Market Size, Share and Global Industry Trend Forecast till 2026
  • Aug, 2021
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