While the long-awaited helicopter taxi service at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) will only begin at the end of the month, a few lucky couples in Bengaluru got an early chance to experience it on Valentine's Day.
The couples were selected through a lucky draw competition on radio. "We held a competition starting last week where listeners had to guess the name of the movie based on its dialogue. Every ninth caller who got the answer right was rewarded with a free helicopter taxi ride in the city on Valentine's Day," explained Reo Raymond, part of Indigo 91.9 FM which partnered with KIA to give the lucky couples, an early bird experience of the HeliTaxii.
Eager for a bird's eye view of the city, the couples arrived at the airport on Wednesday and were whisked away to the helipad, where they were briefed about the helicopter they were riding. The ride over the areas near the airport lasted around 15 minutes and covered a distance of around 18 kms and back.
"We were thrilled to be in the air and we cannot believe we covered 18 kms in such a short time. This would be a huge help when people have to meet deadlines since it will take hours to reach areas like Whitefield from the airport,â€ť said Soumik, a software professional from Bengaluru who enjoyed the helicopter ride.
But some were not fully convinced that they would use the service when it becomes commercial at the end of this month. "I loved the experience but I don't think I will use the services when it comes out at the end of the month since the costs seem to be high," said Priyanka, another user who took the ride on Wednesday.
The KIA has tied up with a private on-demand helicopter service provider to introduce a chopper taxi service from the airport to different parts of the city and to locations outside the city. "In addition to ferrying passengers to Electronic City and HAL, we will also have getaway packages to Coorg, Wayanad and Chikkamagaluru," said Govind Nair, Head of Business Development, Thumby Aviation Private Ltd.
The exact prices are yet to be fixed but an official with Thumby Aviation confirmed that the HeliTaxi will operate the shuttle service within Bengaluru with prices starting from Rs 3,500.
Although there seems to be no respite from Bengaluruâ€™s traffic mess, getting home from the Kempegowda International Airport is going to get easier in the coming months - if you are willing to shell out the money for it.