It is a sad reality, but for Oyonnair, medical transports provide a much more reliable income stream than commercial charters. “The performance of the charter business is directly linked to the performance of the economy,” says Operations Director Yelena Milosevic. “In 2012, during the Arab Spring, the upheavals in North Africa meant that far fewer medical flights from the area were chartered due to a lesser number of tourists and our business suffered as a result.”
Oyonnair, headed by Director Daniel Vovk, adheres to the very strict protocols governing organ transports and has never ‘lost’ an organ in transit. Time is of the essence and the clock starts ticking as soon as the donor organ is removed from the donor’s body.
“Everything has to run smoothly from that point on – the recipient’s life depends on it,” says Ms. Milosevic. “It is something we are very aware of but not something we dwell on during the transport. Our job is to ensure that the protocols are followed and the organ is delivered.”
Last year, Oyonnair successfully delivered roughly 700 organs, bringing the total number of organs transported since the service was started in 2013 to 4,000. “4,000 patients are living vastly different lives today thanks in part to our service,” says Ms. Milosevic. “That is a hugely motivating and satisfying feeling.”
Having succesfully completed the five years of its contract to provide the transport of organs, Oyonnair has just won the contract for another seven years, securing its future for the medium term and solidifying its position in this niche field still further.
Demand for donor organs continues to increase, which means that demand for Oyonnair’s organ transportation service can only grow in the future. Organ transportation currently accounts for 40% of turnover. The company has equipped its jets with special stretchers and can accommodate up to two per flight.
4,000 patients are living vastly different lives today thanks in part to our service. That is a hugely motivating and satisfying feeling. Yelena MilosevicOperations Director
Oyonnair’s fleet currently numbers nine aircraft. These are based at three of France’s regional airports; Lyon Bron, Paris Le Bourget and Rennes. A service and maintenance subsidiary company provides servicing and repairs at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris. In the summer an aeroplane is based at Marseille Airport. Oyonnair also has its own flight simulator for providing ongoing training for its pilots at Roissy Charles de Gaulle.
“We also carry out maintenance and servicing for third party aircraft and intend to increase this part of the business in the future, too,” says Management Assistant Caroline Chaput. “We also provide training for pilots not employed by us.”
Increasingly, digitalization is making the pilot’s job easier. “Instead of going through checklists in paper form, pilots are now equipped with tablets,” says Ms. Chaput. “However, flight plans and rotas are still done the traditional way by hand, although this is sure to change in the future.”
Oyonnair has carved itself a strong position in a growing niche. One of its key strengths is certainly the size of its fleet and the fact that none of its aircraft is older than ten years. It is also enormously flexible and can have passengers and cargo in the air within 90 minutes. Its experienced pilots are supported by equally experienced and qualified ground crews.
“As well as medical transports, we also offer time-critical charters for private individuals or special cargoes,” adds Ms. Milosevic. “For example, we helped a businessman catch an onward flight to the US from Madrid after a connecting flight was cancelled because of a strike.”
For the future, Oyonnair will continue to focus on medical transports. “We can envisage providing medical evacuation services from Asia and the US and even worldwide,” says Ms. Milosevic. “At present, we are focused on France but our radius takes us throughout Europe and North Africa. Destinations further away will mean investing in larger aircraft with a greater range but the potential for medical transports makes this market very attractive. With our young and dynamic team, the sky truly is the limit.”