India’s major cities have consistently been ranked as the most congested in the world. To mitigate that issue, there’s finally going to be on-demand helicopter service available to those who would like to buy some time. US-based “digitally powered-aviation company” BLADE is coming to India to launch the app-based helicopter and small-planes services from Mumbai starting March 2019.
There are two active heliports in the city already: Mahalaxmi and Juhu; and initially BLADE will provide connectivity from there to Pune and the temple-town of Shirdi. It feels like the time for help-taxis in India is ripe – HeliiTaxi started chopper shuttles between Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport and the city; there’s a helicopter taxi service between Chandigarh and Shimla; and in Mumbai itself, multiple operators provide helicopter charters and scheduled services to Shirdi and industrial towns such as Vapi and Tarapur. Uber too has set its sights on India, and has announced plans to launch UberAir sometime soon.
BLADE India will expand its helicopter services with time to connect more cities with sites of pilgrimage and weekend getaways. It aims to eventually offer services on intracity routes as well. It also plans to implement modern technology such as electric vertical take-off and landing in the country. This may turn into a lucrative affair; because a single successful helicopter route in India has the potential to outperform the revenue BLADE generates from its operations in the US in a year.
But then, as far as the model is concerned, with near-zero infrastructure for helicopters, various restrictions of airspace, restrictions on access to helicopter routes, the success for such model in India may take time to pick up. India has several helicopter services that run today, including state-owned Pawan Hans, Global Vectra Helicorp, Heligo charters, Himalayan Heli Services, United Heli Charters, among others. A successful service by BLADE in March 2019, will be another feather in the cap for India.