A Flying Taxi
BlackBook — India's Luxury Insider|February 2019

US and India partners FlyBlade and Hunch Ventures believe that Indian takers for their helicopter taxis will be three times higher than that of the world’s largest aviation market, America

Riddhi Doshi and Shikha Talwar

They want to change the way you commute within the city and outside. New York-based FlyBlade, popularly known as the Uber of helicopters, and Indian investment firm Hunch Ventures, will jointly launch a shared helicopter taxi service, which will ply people across Juhu, Mahalaxmi, Pune and Shirdi from March-April. For a couple of hundred dollars, one would be able to book a seat on a six-seater helicopter, via an app and fly to these destinations within 25 to 45 minutes. The same distances by road takes up to 210 minutes. The companies also plan to offer lounge services at their heliports, like Blade (FlyBlade’s parent company) has across the US. You can enjoy a glass of champagne, some pastries and meet your fellow travellers before being airborne.

Destination India

For FlyBlade’s first venture overseas, Founder and CEO Rob Wiesenthal chose Mumbai and Pune as they are among the most congested cities in the world. “A six-hour drive, from Mahalaxmi to Pune, to 35 minutes flying time; that is a ratio that we have not seen anywhere in the world,” says Wiesenthal. These are the kind of routes the companies look to invest in. India’s growing consumption of luxury and major brands’ entry into the market also lured Blade to come to India. “Large companies such as LVMH, Pernod Ricard and Richemont are all here. India is the key focus of our Asia strategy,” says Wiesenthal. That, coupled with a partnership with Hunch Ventures, an extensive network dedicated to luxury, reaching out to 55 million households, and their experience with Quintessentially, a high-end concierge travel service, are two assets for Blade to build a business on.

Indian partner Hunch Ventures believe that helicopter taxis will be a game changer in India’s air travel segment and a solution to people’s commuting woes. Singh points to the construction of the new airport in Navi Mumbai, which has been on the drawing board for almost 20 years. “In India, it is not easy to acquire such a huge land and get clearances to build a megaairport,” says Singh. “On the other hand, all we need is a small space to build a helipad or a heliport. I see vertical take-offs as the future of aviation.”

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