In January, Beijing Capital Helicopter took delivery of its first Eurocopter EC135P2+ in executive livery, and the company is using it for a regular charter operation from the capital to Buddhist spiritual sites.
The charter was especially active during the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, ferrying passengers to the Wutaishan Mountain area, a well known site of Buddhist temples and monasteries about 160 nm from Beijing Badaling Airport. The Buddhist spiritual center is about a seven-hour journey by train from Beijing. The flight by helicopter is as little as an hour-and-a-half.
According to the company, the flights are priced at about $6,400 an hour and can carry up to seven passengers. The company also operates from a base at Shanghai Gaodong Airport.
The operator expects to expand beyond Beijing and Gaodong to nearby provinces and eventually offer point-to-point passenger service anywhere within about 150 miles.
Beijing Capital Helicopter, an affiliate of Hainan Airlines Group, added the new twin-engine EC135 to an existing fleet of five AS350B3 Squirrels. The additional helicopter, said Norbert Ducrot, Eurocopter senior executive v-p for Asia Pacific, “will further enhance the company’s ability to grow with the market.”
Beijing Capital Helicopter expects its fleet eventually will exceed 50 helicopters and cover a broad expanse of eastern China, from Beijing to the Bohai Rim and include the Yangtze River and Pearl River Deltas. In addition to the two main airport bases, nearly a dozen sites outside Beijing’s third ring road are used as pickup and drop-off points.
According to Eurocopter China, there are now 14 EC135s in service in China, serving a variety of roles, including search-and-rescue, oil platform support, passenger transport, emergency medical transport and law enforcement. Eurocopter has established a growing support network “to cater to the current and future needs of our customers as we anticipate the upward trend to continue.”