The first commercial air ambulance service based in Ireland for emergency medical repatriation is to formally begin operating tomorrow.

The Cessna Citation 550 jet air ambulance will be based and Weston Airport in Leixlip, Co Kildare.

The service is being run by AeroMedevac Ireland, which has recruited a medical escort panel of 15.

Each year, over 400 patients are repatriated to Ireland by health insurance companies, with most involving air ambulance firms based in Britain, France and Germany.

The main reasons for repatriation are accidents, infection and heart conditions.

The new Irish based service will have a range of 1,400 nautical miles, allowing it to fly non-stop to destinations in Eastern Europe, southern Europe including Greece and Malta.

Chief Executive of AeroMedevac Keith Trower said he hoped to be doing around 100 repatriations in the first year of operation.

He said the company had been approved by Enterprise Ireland as a high potential start up.