IT capital Bangalore became the first city in India to have a Heli Taxi, a first-of-its-kind service helicopter taxi which took off on Monday. I was one of the few passengers who got selected for the first Heli Taxii ride, which was formally launched by Kerala-based Thumby Aviation Private Limited.
I couldn’t believe myself that the two and half hour drive from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) to Electronic City could be lessened to a mere 15 minutes by Heli Taxii. With my fellow passengers, we took off from the airport in the Bell 407 helicopter. It hovered over Thanisandra, KR Puram, Mahadevapura, HAL Airport, Bellandur, Parappana Agrahara and Hosur Road before arriving at Electronics City. It looked so simple to hop over Bengaluru’s grinding traffic jams, and we wondered why it took so long for such a service to come to Bangalore. Before touchdown, I managed to capture some breathtaking pics from above.
At present, the Heli taxi service is operating between KIA and Electronic City from 6:30 am to 9:30 am and from 3:15 pm to 6:15 pm. In coming weeks, service will expand to HAL and other areas in the city. The fee is fixed at Rs.4,130 per seat, including GST. It covers pickup from the airport terminal to the helipad and permits passengers to carry 15 kg luggage. An extra charge will be implied for additional baggage which comes via road if required. People can reserve their seat through a mobile app named ‘Heli Taxii.’
For corporates, Heli Taxii is giving an inaugural promo fare of Rs.2,950 per seat including GST. For many firms, this may work out to be economical than car rentals for its officials with time-saving aspect thrown in too. You can also rent the helicopter if you are shuttling between 10 am and 3 pm. Charges will be based on effective pricing, though the inaugural fare is fixed at Rs.35,400 with taxes for six seats.
Thumby Aviation Chairman and MD Captain K N G Nair said “We have got a strong response from the passengers. Some questioned us why we didn’t begin this service sooner. They are very convenient and also saves time especially during peak hours when there is heavy traffic.”
The helipad at Phase-I of Electronics City is also located close to the upcoming metro station and bus station. The city has nearly 90 helipads awaiting DGCA approval. As soon as getting clearance, they will slowly extend the service to other areas. The process of schedules, recognizing locations and programs will begin now. They also intend to launch services from KIA to luxury hotels including ITC Gardenia very soon.
The speed did not unnerve me and the safety issues didn’t bother me too. That’s because the pilot reassured us and said this was a single-engine chopper and was safe. His experience showed in the way he landed the helicopter smoothly. I found the rates competitive. More trips and passengers would bring the prices down. Heli-taxis could be a viable way out of the traffic jams and the misery of missed flights. It was really wonderful flying over our worries. This will be the city’s future.
How to book the Bangalore Heli Taxii:
1. Call the 24×7 Customer Care number: +91-9400399999.
2. In Airport, there’s a Heli Taxii counter at the Arrivals hall.
3. Through the Heli Taxii mobile app (Android/iOS).