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2 Luxembourg planes ready for evacuation for Ebola

One of the Air Rescue planes that will be equipped with "Ebola" (credit: LAR)
One of the Air Rescue planes which will be equipped with “Ebola” (credit: LAR)

(BRUSSELS2) In the midst of the Luxleaks affair - which sees the Grand Duchy indicted for having forcefully attracted tax advantages from multinational companies - the information went relatively unnoticed. And yet it is not negligible. Two Luxembourg planes will be operational within a few weeks to repatriate health personnel or other employees of NGOs or international organizations affected by Ebola on European territory. A condition sine qua put by NGOs and international organizations to send personnel to the region. This capacity will make it possible to complete and take over from American aircraft under contract with the European Commission (*).

Specific equipment

The two ambulance planes, Learjet 45XRs, are supplied by AirRescue, a Luxembourg company specializing in the assistance and repatriation of victims of accidents or illnesses. They will be equipped and fitted out with a specific module to ensure the evacuation of contagious patients. They are based at Findel – Luxembourg airport and available 24 hours a day. It is the EU crisis center, in Brussels, which will serve as a platform for deploying the planes. These must be ready to go within 24 hours. In fact, only one plane is available 12 hours a day, the other serving as a reserve in the event of a problem.

A first European availability, “all-round”

Luxembourg is thus the first EU country to offer all-round evacuation capacity. Luxembourg planes will be able, in fact, to pick up any person on site, in the African countries concerned, whatever their nationality, to repatriate them to one of the European reference hospitals, upon decision of the European emergency center. .

250 reference beds

The European Commission's DG Health has identified 250 beds – throughout Europe – that can accommodate Ebola patients; however, some hospitals only take nationals, others are more open. The only reservation to this all-round availability: Luxembourgers or staff employed by an NGO or under contract with a Luxembourg organization will have priority.

Availability from mid-December

These two planes will be ready from mid-December to transport stage 1 patients (suspicious signs) and at the beginning of January stage 2 to 3 patients (more serious signs). Planes will not normally take patients in stage 4 (final phase with vomiting) but will be equipped if the patient goes from stage 3 to 4 during transport.

Contract duration: 2 years

This availability is normally scheduled for a period of 2 years with a maximum of 48 flights (i.e. 24 on average annually). The company has committed to being able to make a maximum of one flight every 6 days (the time for the return trip, the treatment of the patient, and the disinfection of the plane afterwards).

Financing of the operation

The cost of updating the aircraft will be covered by the European Union under the funding “Ebola”. Also a part transportation will be co-financed by European funds (up to 85 % of costs in the form of reimbursement). The remainder being the responsibility of Luxembourg. But it reserves the possibility of requesting reimbursement of this balance from the State or the organization concerned.

(NGV)

(*) Aircraft which also serve other entities and cannot therefore be available 24/24.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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