Bengaluru has launched a helicopter taxi service from its International airport (Kempegowda International Airport, KIA) to Electronics city, becoming the first in the country to do so.
The main aim of the move is to ease the commuting process for people in the city, beat the city’s extreme traffic scene and save precious time.
The Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, while inaugurating the service on 4 August 2017, said, “we hope that Bengaluru will lead the way for other cities to adopt such services. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a city similar to the size of Bengaluru, there are 300 helicopters operating as heli-taxis.”
Sinha stated that with the implementation of the service, travel will be seamless and there will be no need to fight traffic. He further appealed to the operators to fix the price in a way that it is competitive with air-conditioned road taxis.
• The service, operated by Thumby Aviation Private Limited, is expected to begin in three months.
• The operations would take off with one helicopter initially, Bell 407 chopper that has the capacity to seat 6 passengers.
• In the first phase, the services will be operated between KIA and Karnataka’s software hub Electronics city, which will have a heliport soon enough.
• It is expected to eventually expand to connect Whitefield, the HAL airport and some of the 90-odd high rise buildings that have rooftop helipads, based on the demand from people.
• The service would reduce an otherwise over-two hours-long travel time by cab to just about 15 minutes.
Elaborating more on the project, Chief Managing Director of Thumby Aviation, Group Captain (Retd) KNG Nair said that the prices have not yet been fixed and are likely to be calculated based on the interest shown. He revealed that they are in talks with several companies and the main target is to price the service very competitively.
The Karnataka Minister for Industries and Commerce, R.V Deshpande also spoke on the development by saying that the services could also be used to ferry patients in need of urgent medical care. “The city has around 90 helipads in multi-storeyed buildings which must be made operational. We will work towards achieving this as soon as possible,” Deshpande said.
Bengaluru, the technological hub of India has a population of around 10 million and over 7 million vehicles.
Around 60,000 passengers fly from the city every day and if even 100 among them would use choppers to commute to the airport, the service could become economically viable.
The Karnataka government expects the service to be a model for other cities in India, in order to promote the use of choppers to commute over high traffic areas, to reach airports.
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