Helicopter taxi service: BIAL Bengaluru city: Why they flop? - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Helicopter taxi service: BIAL Bengaluru city: Why they flop?

In 2018 a heli taxi service was launched from BIAL (Bengaluru International Airport Limited) to Electronic city.  The service was deemed as a blessing as the journey time by road is 2-3 hours. Rich people and top executives don’t mind spending 4000-5000 INR for a helicopter ride instead of a taxi which anyway costs 1500-2000 INR. But after a few months the operator (Thumby Aviation) had to suspend heli taxi service, mainly because of poor patronage.

Another helicopter service from Jakkur to Coorg etc is currently operating, but costs around 16000 per person.

There is news that helicopter service from Bengaluru airport to the city will resume soon. [News]

Below are my thoughts why heli taxi service flopped last time and will flop again if not fixed

contextual image, Sarang helicopter from Aero India show

1 Flexibility is needed. Flights get delayed, so passengers can’t commit to a specific time.

If I book a helicopter taxi for 5 PM assuming my flight lands at 4.30PM, do I lose all the money if flight is delayed by 45 minutes? Then it is too much risk. Helicopter taxi operators should give free rescheduling in case of flight delay. There will be others who didn’t book in advance or missed the previous ride so the heli taxi company can get someone else for the missing seat.

2 Baggage mismatch is not good: If domestic flights allow 15 kg check in bag, 7 kg cabin bag while helicopter taxi only allows 15kg total, the extra baggage charge will put off many. Either disclose how much extra per kg or include a total 22 kg per passenger.

3. Security check: Once a helicopter lands in the airport passengers need to join the regular checkin and security queue or would there be a separate section for them? Passengers are expected to arrive 1.5-2 hours early for domestic and 3-4 hours for international. If this time can be reduced by 30-60 minutes for helicopter taxi riders it will be great.

4. Drop off points: Just one or two drop off points in Bengaluru (HAL and Electronic city) won’t work. Helicopter taxi service should have few more drop off points-Vijayanagara, Kengeri and other parts. Large buildings in the area can be encouraged to build a helipad on top. Aim for at least 10-15 drop off points all around the city so that everyone gets to land somewhere not more than 20-30 minutes (by road) from their final destination. 

If I have to spend another hour and 1000 INR to take a taxi to home from helipad then the whole proposition is compromised

5. 18% GST? While taxi services cost only 5% GST, helicopter taxis are charged at 18%. Why not reduce it to 5% like any other transport solution?

6. Frequency: Should be at least once an hour, not just 4-5 rides per day. Flights operate throughout the day, there will be delays- if helicopter taxi operates only 4-5 times a day people who can afford also can’t wait several hours for next ride. If there is a take off at least once an hour, then more customers will walk-in and buy a helitaxi ticket than heading towards taxi counter.

Airport rail connectivity is made a flop due to lack of frequency- probably taxi mafia at play. 

I also wonder how the security threat works in the case of helicopter taxi. In regular airlines we need to separate batteries and follow a bunch of other rules- what should go into check in, what is allowed in the cabin. All those rules suddenly not valid for helicopters where everything can be added together? What if a terrorist brings some bad stuff separated in cabin and check bag, mixes them in helicopter and blows it mid air?

If a helicopter taxi company can build a helipad in majestic, offer a service from airport to majestic for 1500-2000 max per person and offer it once every 30 minutes, then majority of customers who book taxi will opt for heli taxi. Aviation companies should look at larger 8-10 seater helicopters so that they can lift more passengers per ride.

What are your thoughts? 

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