Bengaluru to get India’s first ‘heli-taxi’ service

Flying over traffic jams, travellers from Electronics City can reach airport in 15 minutes

Updated - August 05, 2017 08:30 am IST

Published - August 04, 2017 11:57 pm IST - Bengaluru

Those who have grown to dread the trip to or from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) can now breathe easy. The journey by road, which often entailed a nightmarish three hours in rush hour traffic, may soon be completely avoidable as Bengaluru is all set to get India’s first dedicated helicopter-taxi (heli-taxi) service.

Announced on Friday, the service, expected to take off in three months, will be operated by Thumby Aviation Private Limited. Initially, the services will be between KIA and Electronics City, where a heliport is expected to come up. Estimates by the company peg the travel time at around 15 minutes.

Speaking at the launch, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha said, “We hope that Bengaluru will lead the way for other Indian cities to adopt such services. In the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, for instance, which is similar in size to Bengaluru, there are 300 helicopters operating as heli-taxis. My appeal to the operators is to keep their prices competitive with air-conditioned road taxis.”

“We hope that Bengaluru will lead the way for other cities to adopt such services.”

Group Captain (Retd.) KNG Nair, chief managing director of Thumby Aviation, said the services would be launched with one Bell 407 chopper with a seating capacity of six. “We will also look at ferrying passengers to Whitefield and to the HAL airport as well in the near future,” he said.

The prices, which are yet to be fixed, are likely to be calculated based on the interest shown. “We are in talks with several companies. We would like to price the service very competitively,” Mr. Nair said. Current fares for an air-conditioned taxi between KIA and Electronics City range between ₹1,500 to ₹2,500 for a 50-km ride. The travel time could be 90 minutes to three hours depending on traffic. KIA is also open to supporting other companies that would like to take up similar heli-taxi services to and from the city.

90 helipads

Also speaking at the launch, Karnataka Minister for Industries and Commerce R.V. Deshpande said that the services could also be used to ferry patients in need of urgent medical care. “The city has around 90 helipads in multi-storeyed buildings. These must be made operational, and we hope to do it soon.”

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