Bill Barry said an air ambulance based in Deer Lake could save lives for west-coast residents requiring a medical evacuation to hospital in St. John's. ((CBC))

A Corner Brook entrepreneur is trying to persuade the province that his one-plane airline could provide safer, faster air ambulance service for Newfoundland's west coast.

Bill Barry, whose Barry Group of Companies is heavily involved in the seafood processing industry, bought the NALAIR executive air charter service three years ago.

He is attempting to convince the Newfoundland and Labrador government to allow the airline to provide the ambulance service from its base at the Deer Lake airport. About 70 per cent of medical evacuations come from the west coast, he said.

"Those flights are based in St. John's [and] if you look at the reaction time for patients and everything, it's really hours and hours of delay," Barry said.

"These services are all emergency services, so the difference between being an extra two hours longer or three hours longer is really a difference between life and death."

About 260 medevac flights were flownfrom Deer Lake in 2005, using St. John's-based aircraft. As well, about 100 private air ambulance flights took place from the west coast during the same period.

"That's an exceptional opportunity that we believe exists," he said.

If he expands into the air ambulance business, Barry said he will add another aircraft. He is hoping to complete negotiations with the provincial government within a year.