CAL director says the company is planning to airlift pilgrims from the Nedumbasserry airport to Perinad

Pilgrims visiting Sabarimala from different parts of the country will be able to use the helicopter taxi service from Kochi during the forthcoming annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku season. Thanks, to the regular ‘helitaxi’ service planned by the Delhi-based Chipsan Aviation Ltd. (CAL) for Sabarimala pilgrims.

Talking to The Hindu, Sunil Narayanan, CAL director, said the company was planning to airlift pilgrims using helicopters from the Nedumbasserry airport to Perinad, about 50 km away from Sabarimala, covering 55 nautical miles. The company will take the pilgrims in a luxury taxi cab from Perinad to Pampa. CAL will also make arrangements for the ‘kettumurukku’ of the pilgrims at Pampa.

According to Mr. Narayanan, CAL will charge Rs.12,000 a passenger for a one-way trip and Rs.22,000 for a round trip.

However, during the five-day monthly puja period, the company has on offer another package which includes, apart from the helicopter travel, food, accommodation, and transport facility in a dolly (a palanquin like carriage) from Pampa the holy hillock at Rs.30,000 a person, he added.

Mr. Narayanan said CAL would use the latest French-made AS 350 B-III helicopters. The necessary clearance from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had been obtained, he said.

He said a modern helipad with all safety measures had been set up at Perinad, as per the guidelines issued by the DGCA. CAL had conducted two experimental flights to Perinad and the regular operations during the forthcoming pilgrim season would begin by mid-November, he said. “Our aim is to provide a swift and safe mode of transport for Sabarimala pilgrims,” he said.

CAL would also explore the possibility of operating an air-taxi package for Sabarimala pilgrims from Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad in chartered flights. The company was also planning to spread its wings to promote ‘helitourism’ across the State by conducting helicopter joyrides in different districts, he added.

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