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Move over buses, you'll soon be able to take a helicopter from Mumbai to Pune

BusinessToday.In     December 5, 2018

You will soon be able to skip tedious interstate bus travels, starting from Mumbai. Fly Blade Inc - aka Uber of Helicopters - the largest arranger of helicopter flights for civilian use will start its India operations in 2019. Its operations are going to start from the Mumbai to Pune route.

The American company is launching its India unit in partnership with Hunch Ventures, an equity investment firm based in Delhi. The joint venture will be called Blade India. It will be headed by Amar Abrol, who was serving as the head of AirAsia India till May this year.

The helicopters will take off from Juhu and Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. Once the Mumbai-Pune route becomes operational, their services will be extended to Shirdi.

Blade India, like its US parent company, will not have its own helicopters. "We follow an asset-light model and don't have any helicopters of our own. In India, we will operate a niche service but this service will eventually grow," said Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of Blade.

Wiesenthal said that the service will help customers avoid large airports and reduce travel time of four to eight hours to a mere 35 minute duration. They are also planning to price the flights significantly lower than private chartered jets.

Wiesenthal also believes that one successful route in India has the potential to make more than the revenue generated by Blade in its US operations in a year.

"Given the challenges of building transportation infrastructure in our country, we will utilize India's existing network of heliports to launch a UAM (urban air mobility) solution immediately," said Karanpal Singh, Founder of Hunch.

The JV will partner with companies under the Hunch portfolio. One of them is Quintessentially, India's largest luxury travel concierge with a customer loyalty programme that includes 3 lakh high-net worth individuals.

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