Heli taxi service to Sabarimala launched

CIAL managing director Dr C G Krishnadas Nair and director M A Yusuff Ali said the taxi services would be used to take pilgrims to Nilakkal near Pampa as well as to the hilltop at Saramkuthy near Sannidhanam.

The services are to be operated jointly with the Bangalore-based Bharath Airways Private Limited and could be utilised for emergency airlifting to hospitals as well. Necessary sanctions have been obtained from authorities, including the Travancore Devaswom Board which administers the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa shrine, to operate the service.

The helicopter, an American made Bell-407, can carry five passengers and two pilots and the flying time from Kochi to Nilakkal will be 30 minutes.

Sources said the total cost of operating a 30-minute trip would be Rs 45,000 which meant that a person will have to shell out roughly Rs 9,000 for a one-way trip to Sabarimala. Ali said they planned to utilise six helicopters in due course for operating the taxi service.

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