NEW DELHI: The almost 1.5-2 hour drive between Bengaluru city
and its distant Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) could shrink to a short helicopter hop from this July. BLADE India is planning to have a morning and evening shuttle between the heliport at KIA, less than a km from the terminal, to Electronics City and the old HAL Airport
, says the company’s commercial director Payal Satish
. A one-way ticket for the helicopter ride will cost about Rs 4,000.
Bengaluru lost its brief chopper connectivity with the airport about 3.5 years back when Thumby Aviation
stopped this service. People in the know say the shuttle service at that time suffered from several issues like low patronage and long waiting period for permission to operate chopper at the airport due to aircraft movement.
“We currently have six times weekly return from Bengaluru’s Jakkur aerodrome to Kodagu/Kabini. A one-way between Bengaluru and Kodagu costs Rs 16,000. Our proposed BLADE airport shuttle will be five days weekly from Monday to Friday. Once this starts, we will add Mysuru to our helicopter network that will cost about Rs 12,000 one-way,” Satish said.
BLADE India, a helicopter aggregator, currently uses four choppers. It has flights between Mumbai and Pune, Ambi Valley, Shillim and Shirdi.
“We offer fly-by-the seat service where a person buys a seat on the helicopter like an aircraft seat. We also offer charters,” she said.
The company’s US partner, Blade US, has for years been operating the BLADE Airport helicopter service between downtown Manhattan and JFK Airport. “We are getting the same thing to India with our Bengaluru service,” Satish said.
Incidentally, the company is also working to bring electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to India. Blade India MD & co-founder Amit Dutta also heads the urban air mobility task force for CII and has submitted a detailed study on the subject to the government.
India invited BLADE to simultaneously launch electric vertical craft simultaneously in the US and India in early 2024 (the expected launch date after getting all required FAA and EASA approvals). “The Blade team will come here again in July and I will be speaking to other electric vertical craft (EVA) makers in the US to do the same. They will examine climatic conditions here and the regulatory framework,” Dutta said.