The heavyweights of the rescue helicopter industry have thrown their support behind Taranaki's troubled service.
The Air Rescue Group says it has committed to supporting and assisting the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust to ensure the best possible service can be maintained for the region.
The ARG is a collective of emergency rescue helicopter providers comprising all ACC contract holders.
Last month the trust revealed it was in financial strife and needed to find $400,000 to avoid shutting down by the end of the year. Last week it revealed both of its pilots had resigned.
ARG chairman Ross Black said the organisation was well positioned to support its members and confident an acceptable and workable solution would be found to ensure that the Taranaki region continued to have a high-quality rescue helicopter service.
"We are offering a range of support possibilities, it's very much over to the Taranaki trust to decide which of these offers makes most sense and to take them up," Mr Black said.
The ARG had offered emergency pilots so the service could continue to operate in the short term, he said.
Trust chairman Mark Masters said he was delighted to have the support of the ARG.
Mr Masters said he was confident the service would continue to operate and had instructed Auckland company Helilink, which runs the service, to begin interviewing pilots.
The support would include a detailed review of operations, consideration of options for changes in the structure of operations, support with key operational personnel including pilots, and assistance with fundraising from the community and other agencies.
"We've been having a close look at ourselves at the moment as to what we should be doing and what the options are for the future, if we had to change the [business] model, but at this stage we have got nothing conclusive," Mr Masters said.
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust's fundraising arm would start attempting to boost the service's finances from the corporate sector this week.
"They had a look at our numbers and thought that maybe they could make an impression on that," he said.
"We've got some very positive vibes from businesses at the moment but until we get everything across the line we are not prepared to make any comment about that."
He said there were a variety of options for the trust's future to be considered.
"Whether we continue with what we've got and that will be very dependant on the amount of financial support that comes forth. It may well be that we do continue with what we've got or we might have to change to a different [business] model or even keep the same helicopter but do less work, maybe concentrate solely on rescues."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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