Pune-Mumbai chopper service to take off next month
PUNE: Fasten your seatbelts. A helicopter service connecting Pune and Mumbai will take off next month, offering hassle-free journey between the two cities.
Blade India, a joint venture between US-based aviation startup Blade Urban Air Mobility and Hunch Ventures, will start the chopper service in the two cities and Shirdi from October. All the necessary permissions had been taken from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to start the service, a source in the firm said.
“Blade will offer urban air mobility services between Mumbai, Pune and Shirdi. The company has helipads at convenient locations — Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai, Mundhwa in Pune and Chaitanyapuri in Shirdi,” Amit Dutta, the managing director of Blade India, said.
He said the helicopter fares would be dynamic. A total of three choppers, comprising Airbus HC130 and Bell 407, would be used for the service.
“These helicopters will fly between Mumbai, Pune and Shirdi, Monday to Saturday. The network of flights will be announced shortly,” Dutta told TOI.
The absence of direct flights between Pune and Mumbai has been an issue for many business flyers. The city’s Rajib Ghosh, who deals with foreign clients, had earlier said, “The clients based in the US and Germany are now avoiding a visit to Pune because to skirt the trouble of driving down the expressway from Mumbai. The number of visitors to the city has dropped mainly because of this and lack of international air connectivity.”
He said, “The helicopter service should be offered at low cost. Else, the number of passengers will be few,” Ghosh said.
A source said the company had interactions with the city-based travel agents to make the service popular.
Dutta said, “The idea is to reduce the travel time and provide the best services. Initially, the service will be available only in Mumbai, Pune and Shirdi. Travel will be one aspect of the service; the other part will be the experience it offers to the customers.”
He said, “The service will begin with metropolitan cities and congested tourist/religious destinations to make travelling less time consuming and convenient. Our aim is to eventually offer services on intra-city routes. We shall also offer pickup and drop services from the helipad to the passengers’ desired locations within the city besides, baggage pickup and drop services (intra and intercity).”
To book helicopter rides, passengers will have to log on to the company’s website or call on the customer care number or use the firm’s cellphone application, the authorities said.
Aviation analyst and expert Dhairyashil Vandekar said the potential of the helicopter service was huge. “Many high-end travellers are ready to pay and travel at their convenience. Many from foreign countries come here to visit Shirdi. The government, too, wants to develop heliports under the regional connectivity scheme,” he said.
Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA