The Kempegowda International Airport will become the first airport in the country to have a helicopter-taxi (heli-taxi) service for those who cannot afford to spend time battling traffic to travel across the city.
Announced on Friday, the service, which will be operated by Thumby Aviation Private Limited, is expected to take off within three months. Initially, services will be operated between KIA and Electronics City, where a heliport is expected to come up. Estimates by the company peg the travel time at around 15 minutes, a journey that takes a few hours by road otherwise.
“We hope that Bengaluru will lead the way for other cities to adopt such services. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, a city similar in size to Bengaluru, there are 300 helicopters operating as heli-taxis. Travel will be seamless and there will be no need to fight traffic. My appeal to the operators is to fix the price in a way to make it competitive with air-conditioned road taxis,” said Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, at the launch.
Group Captain (Retd) KNG Nair, Chief Managing Director of Thumby Aviation, said that initially operations would be launched with one Bell 407 chopper that could seat 6 passengers. “We will look at ferrying passengers to Whitefield and to the HAL airport as well in the future,” he said.
However, the prices have not yet been fixed and are likely to be calculated based on the interest shown. “We are in talks with several companies. The target is to price the service very competitively,” he said.
Speaking at the launch, Karnataka Minister for Industries and Commerce R.V Deshpande said 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.”
Current fares charged for an air-conditioned taxi between KIA and Electronics City range between ?1500 to ? 2500 for a 50 kilometer ride. The travel time by road could take between 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending on traffic.