Flying high: BLADE’s KIA to E-City heli-service by Feb

Flying high: BLADE’s KIA to Electronics City heli-service by February

Charter service from December 18. The helicopters will initially fly between Bengaluru and Kodagu, Kabini, Chikkamagaluru and Hampi

Representative image/Credit: Reuters Photo

Pandemic-time travel is literally hitting the skies but in exclusive, private packages.

Riding this trend, BLADE India is all set to launch a heli-charter service in Karnataka from December 18. The helicopters will initially fly between Bengaluru and Kodagu, Kabini, Chikkamagaluru and Hampi. But the aviation firm has bigger plans for Bengaluru, including a service connecting Electronics City and HAL Airport with the Kempegowda International Airport, the company’s managing director Amit Dutta told DH. This service could start sometime in mid-February, 2021, he said.

The city service will replicate BLADE USA’s heli-link between New York City and the airport. “Looking at Bengaluru’s big potential for growth in this sector, we will initially start with one or two helicopters and increase the fleet as demand picks up,” Dutta explained.

The company is in talks with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to use the helipad at the airport. A landing facility and other infrastructure will be created just outside KIA and Electronics City. Thumby Aviation has already entered this field with its heli-taxi services.

The BLADE service, Dutta said, will integrate a luxury lounge experience both at the arrival and disembarkation points. “Passengers can avail the same experience that BLADE USA offers.”

BLADE India is a joint venture between the US-based BLADE Urban Air Mobility, Inc and Hunch Ventures.

The resumption of international flights to and from Bengaluru and the launch of direct flights between the city and American cities by Air India from mid-January and United Airlines from April is expected to give a big push for heli-transport from KIA to the city proper. Launching on Friday, BLADE’s heli-charter service will cater to the end-of-year demand, connecting the city to hotels and resorts in popular tourist destinations in the state. “We have been in talks with the Karnataka Tourism Department for long, exploring the potential for air connectivity to the resorts it operates.”

Debuting with a Mumbai–Pune–Shiradi service in November 2019 with an Airbus-130 and Bell 407 six-seater helicopters, the aviation firm had gained traction with travellers in the business, leisure and pilgrimage segments.

Covid-19 pulled the curtains over the services before they resumed the Maharashtra operations in October 2020 when the lockdown eased. Besides intra-city and charter services, the company has proposed experiential and inter-city flights in Karnataka. The company wants to gradually extend itself to ‘fly-by-seat’ services as well.