Varun* wanted to propose to his long-term in a unique way. “But I wanted it to be different, not what everyone does. Based on the recommendation of a few friends, I decided to check if the HeliTaxii services had something to offer,” he said.
Telling her that they were going on a drive, he took her to the helipad in Electronic City. “A staff member came to us and first, as decided earlier, asked us if we’d like to examine the helicopter. We agreed, and went up to it. Then, they casually asked us if we’d like to go for a joyride. I somehow managed to coax her to come on the ‘joyride’ and, midair, I proposed. There was a brief, but what felt like an uncomfortably long pause to me, and she said yes,” laughs Varun.
This isn’t just a one-off request that the six-month old HeliTaxii has received from Bengalureans. Since its first flight on March 5, the helicopter service has seen over a dozen celebrations – birthdays, office parties, anniversaries and retirements.
"Often, employees also reserve a helicopter to celebrate their job promotions," Group Captain (Retd.) KNG Nair, Chief Managing Director of Thumby Aviation, says. Thumby Aviation runs HeliTaxii.
Locals too book these services to tour the city from ait. “Youngsters have also chartered these flights for weekend getaways. We have also received enquiries if we can transport people to nearby places of religious importance. This is especially beneficial for the elderly,” he adds.
While a ride to the airport could cost Rs 3,500, not including GST, joyrides or special events could cost more depending on the client’s requirement. “Many people want to make the ride special, as it is their first time in a helicopter. And since it is some distance from the city, they ask us to organise a meal or some snacks at the lounges near the helipad. So the costs can vary depending on their preference,” says Nair.
Till date, HeliTaxii claims to have ferried over 1,000 fliers to and from the city. In most cases, it’s corporates transporting their high net worth individual clients, foreign delegates or even executives to avoid spending time in the city’s traffic.
"Given that commuting within the city, with the dense traffic it witnesses, is a bit challenging, the companies do want their clients in good spirits when they visit their location. In such cases, they don’t mind cruising them through the city's airspace of about 40-50 kms from the Kempegowda International Airport to the city within minutes," he says.
Taking into consideration the time saved and the distance covered, officials at Thumby Aviation feel that their rides provide more value for money than booking a cab.
“There are hotels in the city that provide guests a cab, but they charge anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000. So in that sense, our rates are quite reasonable and people are ready pay considering how convenient it is,” adds Nair.
HeliTaxii officials say they are in talks with some hotels and high-rises in the city that have helipads on them. “If we are successful, we can develop more landing zones in the city, thus being more visible and accessible. This will also help us be viewed as an alternative to taking other modes of transport.”
*Name changed on request
Story by www.storyinfinity.com (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP).