“Exhilarating, epic, absolutely phenomenal,” gushed lifestyle blogger Deena Pinto, as India’s first heli-taxi service completed its maiden flight between Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) and Electronics City here in less than 15 minutes. Operated by the Kochi-based Thumby Aviation, the six-seater Bell 407 helicopter had just clocked a travel record, bypassing the city’s notoriously congested roads in a jiffy. Taking off at 10.30 am from a helipad on KIA’s land side, the heli-taxi landed at 10.45 am in Electronics City. For Pinto, the first helicopter ride of her life was an aerial experience like no other. “I am still on cloud nine from my trip. Although it was very brief, it was amazing to watch Namma Bengaluru from above. Sky taxis are here to say,” she told DH. A one-way flight is priced at Rs 4,130 per seat (Rs 3,500 plus GST). Digital marketer Mr Hrish Thota, who also flew the heli-taxi, found it cheaper than the Rs 4,500 charged for a luxury taxi ride on the same route. “The taxi takes 2.5 hours due to the heavy traffic. Heli-taxi makes perfect sense for the corporates, C-level employees and CEOs,” Mr Hrish analysed. The last-mile connectivity was another plus. Passengers landing at KIA are picked up right from the airport terminal and driven in an SUV to the helipad. “At Electronics City, too, the helipad in Phase I is within 1.5 km from all the major IT firms. It is very convenient,” he explained. Also, a Metro station is coming up in the vicinity. Lined up for the second phase are services between KIA, HAL Airport and the ITC Gardenia hotel near Richmond Circle. Bookings will soon be opened at HAL. Plans are afoot to activate more helipads in the city to make it an intra-city heli-taxi service, said a Thumby Aviation official. The helipad facility at Electronics City was formally inaugurated in the presence of the CEO and members of the Electronics City Industrial Township Authority (ELCITA). Once demand picks up, a 13-passenger Bell 412 helicopter will be added to the fleet. The airport shuttle is currently operational from 6.30 am to 9.45 am, and from 3.15 pm to 6 pm. For corporates, a special introductory price of Rs 2,500 plus taxes has been offered for 45 days. Services during the remaining daylight hours between 10 am and 3 pm will be open to bookings based on availability and dynamic pricing. This is currently priced at Rs. 35,400 (inclusive of taxes).
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