Editor’s Note: This story was originally published March 5, 2018
Want to avoid a three-hour drive to the airport in some of India’s worst traffic?
Bangalore is now offering helicopter transfers between the city and its airport for around $65.
The gateway to India’s Silicon Valley launched its HeliTaxi service on Monday, promising to ferry customers the 40 miles between Bangalore’s Electronic City tech hub and the international airport terminal in 15 minutes.
Customers can book their chopper ride through a mobile app. The service, which claims to be the first of its kind in India, offers only one route but Bangalore airport will add more once it has approval for helipads around the city.
HeliTaxi is not an affordable option for many travelers, with an Uber ride for the same journey costing less than half as much. But Bangalore airport and Thumby Aviation, who are operating the service, say it’s a competitive alternative to a limousine for tech executives in a hurry.
“A large number of high profile travelers, including CEOs, have to spend more than three hours by road to get there - and that is a loss of time,” a Bangalore airport spokesperson told CNN.
“This is not a low cost option, but it is an option,” she added.
The choppers ferried around 8 customers to the airport on their first day, said Thumby Aviation chairman K.N.G Nair. The company, which previously specialized in private charter flights for government officials, owns and operates the helicopters.
“Our aim was to make [helicopter] travel affordable to the common man,” Nair told CNN. “We realized that it is indeed a viable project.”
Several other Indian state governments have asked Thumby to start similar services in their top airports, and the company is now considering those proposals.