Nepal, Ministry of Culture and civil Aviation launched and team already on the way of investigating to find out the list companies who are doing bogus helicopter rescue in Nepal Himalayas form a long years. Many trekking companies, Helicopter companies, hospitals and rescue companies of Nepal are in list of suspicions on the accusation of corruption and fluid activities of helicopter rescue over the insurance companies.
There seem to be at least five sorts of fraudulent use of insurance policies to profit from helicopter rescues: unnecessary evacuations, fast rides down, overcharging rescues, charging twice for the same rescue and deliberately scheduling ‘rescue’ flights into trekking itineraries.
The investigation were begun when the company’s campaign to end the issue of helicopter evacuation fraud in Nepal began in August 2017, when Traveller Assist – in a joint venture with an Australia-based insurer – sent Operations Manager Forest Williams to Kathmandu to assess the level of care being provided in hospitals, and to ascertain why the 2017 spring climbing season had been the most expensive on record for medical claims, particularly for helicopter rescues and evacuations. Williams said “We learned a lot from the 2017 high-season [Oct-Nov]. It was the busiest year on record since the 2015 Nepal earthquake. This gave us the opportunity to try-and-test different methods to facilitate and improve rescue and evacuation missions,”
Tourist trekking in Nepal are being pressured for helicopter evacuations. Dodgy trekking operators are scamming tens of thousands of dollar from insurance companies by making multiple claims for a single chopper ride or pushing trekkers to accept airlifts for minor illnesses, an investigation by AFP has revealed.
In other cases, trekking guides, promised commission if they get tourists to return by chopper, are offering helicopter rides to tired hikers as a quick way home, but billing them as rescues to insurance companies.
The practice is so rampant helicopter pilots are reporting “rescuing” tourists who appear in perfectly fine health.
But over the past six years the skies of Mt Everest region have turned into a helicopter highway, with a six-fold increase in the number of choppers in the air, each logging over 1,000 flying hours per year, according to industry data.
“We used to see maybe one helicopter in two or three days. Now we are seeing 10 or more in a day,” said Thanishwar Bhandari, who works as a small clinic in Pheriche, the Everest region.
Meanwhile, one foreign pilot, who requested anonymity, said he rescued trekkers on a near daily basis in April and May this year, peak trekking season.
“I think I took three people the whole season who appeared genuinely ill,” he told AFP.
It goes like this: Tourist searches for treks and finds a reliable looking website selling a cheap (maybe also fast) trek to EBC (or ABC etc.). So she/he decides to join, without calculating if a $599 trek to EBC is actually possible, Lukla flights costing almost $400 alone.
This is the scam part: trekkers are made to sign a paper requiring them to evaluate themselves, preferably by helicopter, if they get any signs of AMS, intestinal problems, respiratory problems etc. The thing is that many if not most trekkers do get these in mild forms and can still continue without much trouble. Anyway, the whole trek is planned so that NOBODY will be able to make it through: itinerary too fast, diarrhea is caused on purpose by tainting the food, etc.
Each trekker “needing” helicopter evacuation is flown to Kathmandu to a private hospital with connections with the helicopter company, sometimes accompanied by a medical assistant (with no medical training) at added cost. Naturally just one “patient” per flight to maximise the costs. These “patients” are then kept prisoners in the hospital at $1000 day for 3-4 days, passport is confiscated.
At the end the amount from the insurance company, or unlucky individual, is divided by the trekking agency, hospital and the helicopter company so that the agency gets some % and the helicopter operator/hospital keeps the rest. Traditionally the guide calling the chopper also gets some % of the flight cost. So the nominally $599 trek actually brings in about $10000 per “rescued” trekker or more.
How to protect yourself from these helicopter evacuation scams in Nepal ?
Fluids Helicopter evacuation do not only defraud the insurance companies, but also ruin your money and time. So, you have to protect yourself from these scams, and it is also your responsibility to be loyal with those insurance companies who have been providing service to millions of travelers all over the world.
So when you book your trip with a local trekking agency, just think about the price quote that any trekking agencies offering you. If you find a trekking agency who is offering Very l0ow price like for ebc trek as low as $1000 that includes meals, accommodation, flights, guide and porter, then you have to think about it. how it is possible? Because if you calculate all the expenses of everest trip, it cannot be offered in $1000 USD. Even a price of a domestic flight is about $350 – $400 USD per person. It means there is only $600 left out of $1000. And how could it be possible to get some profit for the agency after providing these all services to the guest. So, there might be high chance of helicopter rescue.
At last, as a leading trekking company in Nepal we suggest you guys to be aware of such scams and just choose right agency for your trip to Nepal.
Also we Global Holidays Adventure proudly said that we have not done even a single helicopter rescue from our 10 years of mountaineering history. We know the value of time and value of money, of our respected costumers.