Heli-taxis relaunch with Jakkur-E-City flights in June

Heli-taxis to relaunch with Jakkur-E-City flights from June

Covid makeover

Revving up for a relaunch in the first week of June, the city’s first heli-taxi service by Thumby Aviation has a new plan: A heli-service between the Jakkur Flying Club and Electronics City before operations could start later from the Kempegowda International Airport. 

Heli-taxi rides to and from KIA were suspended in May 2019, when the helipad was shifted out to accommodate a new 10-lane access road. Flying two six-seater Bell 407 helicopters, Thumby had completed an estimated 1,100 trips since its launch in the city.

On Tuesday, Thumby’s Electronics City helipad was in mock-drill mode to prepare for the June launch. Masks, sanitisers, personal protection equipment (PPEs) and social distancing were all in order, as the helipad got a COVID-19 makeover.

His face masked and hands gloved, a mock passenger first stepped in for a thermal screening right at the entrance. The security guard in full PPE gear first sanitised the luggage and directed the passenger to head to the reception.

The mask was pulled down for an ID check before the passenger pulled out his smartphone to show that the Aarogya Setu app was downloaded. Cleared to pass, the passenger entered the security check-in area through a door-framed metal detector. Frisked from the sides, the path was finally clear to the waiting copter.

The helicopter, disinfected both from the outside and inside, awaited the passenger’s entry before the engines were turned on.

Once the Jakkur-Electronics City rides begin, Thumby’s own fleet of cabs will cover the last-mile. “Passengers arriving at the KIA could either get picked up by our vehicles or come on their own till Jakkur. It is their choice,” Govind Nair, the heli-taxi founder and director, business development, told DH.

When it was first launched, the heli-taxi service had opened up a robust option for corporate biggies to quickly bypass the city’s notorious road traffic in 12 minutes flat. The Jakkur-Electronics City flight will be a minute faster.

The KIA-Electronics City fare for a single seat was Rs 4,500, inclusive of tax. The entire copter could be booked for Rs 45,000 per trip. The Jakkur trip rates are yet to be fixed.

“We started with 30% efficiency in 2018, which went up to 70% by the end of the year,” said Nair, optimistic that the business could pick up once the COVID-19 surge flattens, with an emphasis on travel driven by social distancing.

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