CBC has learned STARS air ambulance flights have been grounded at least three times since it was reinstated last month in Manitoba.

The temporary shutdowns of the service came after three months of no flights in the province.

In December, the Manitoba government grounded all STARS flights in the province while officials investigated the death of a woman who died after being transported by the air ambulance service.

The province only reinstated flights last month, after an extensive review.

Since then, flights have been grounded three times.

One shutdown was because of a mechanical issue and two others were due to staffing issues.

Currently, STARS is only flying emergency missions in Manitoba – one of the conditions of its return to the sky.

In the 34 days STARS has been in operation this year, it’s flown four times at an average cost of $250,000 per mission.

That’s because the province pays STARS roughly $1 million a month. It puts the cost of each mission much higher than what another province with a STARS air ambulance service, Saskatchewan, paid on average per missions last year -  about $25,000.

Manitoba Health Minister Erin Selby the province is working towards expanding STARS service again.

"We're working to make sure they're back up to full service. We want to see STARS be able to be back to use their full service, and we're working towards that," she said. 

Selby said STARS will have to continue to operate on an emergency basis only until an oversight panel determines how the service will operate in the long term.

Selby did not offer a timeline of how long that could take.