Bengaluru is set to be the first Indian city to have a helicopter taxi service. The Heli Taxi service between Electronics City of Bengaluru and its Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) will take three months to become operational.
The Heli Taxi service will be provided by Thumby Aviation Private Limited, a leading aviation company. It plans to start the service with a Bell 412 helicopter having a capacity of 13 passengers and a Bell 407 that is capable of carrying 5 passengers. Presently, the company is carrying out the procedures of regulatory approvals.
The announcement of the launch of the Heli Taxi service was made by Jayant Sinha, ministry of state for civil aviation, on Friday. In his announcement, the minister claimed that the service will make sure that the commuters between the two destinations travel quickly, seamlessly and at a cost similar to that of a luxury taxi service. Apart from carrying passengers, the Heli Taxis service will also be used for medical evacuations.
The luxury taxis that ply on the route between KIA and Electronics City charge approximately Rs. 3000. Due to the heavy traffic on roads, the 55-km long journey takes 2 to 3 hours which the heli taxi would reduce to a mere 15 minutes.
A survey has revealed that around 60,000 people travel to KIA every day. Owing to such heavy footfall at the international airport, Group Captain KNG Nair, chairman and managing director, Thumby Aviation, asserts that even 70 to 80 people who use the service of a Heli Taxi would be a good start.
It is planned that the air shuttle service will later be extended to White Field and HAL Airport of Bengaluru and more choppers will also be added.
Bangalore Mirror quotes Jayant Sinha saying,
The city of Sao Paulo in Brazil is as big as Bengaluru, but they operate about 300 helicopters. We want to have efficient seamless transfers at affordable costs from the airport to the city’s business hubs like Electronic City, which on road takes about two-and-a-half hours, this travel time can be reduced to about 10-15 minutes.
The minister also said that the focus of the government, under the Udaan Scheme, is to make all classes board an aircraft, whether they be commoners, patients or business folk.
The south Indian city of Bengaluru presently has 90 rooftop helipads, whereas, only one of them, which is located at the ITC Royal Gardenia on Residency Road has operational clearance from civil aviation regulatory authorities. The government aims to make other helipads in the city operational. The government is also considering creation of a heliport at Electronics City.
The government of Bengaluru also expects the city’s heli taxi service to be a model for other cities of the country to use choppers in areas of heavy traffic for an easy commute to the airport.