Blade India, a joint venture with Blade Urban Air Mobility, has soft-launched helicopter services in the former Portuguese state of Goa. Daily services begin at the end of August when the tourism season starts and monsoon rains subside. Goa is the third state for Blade’s short-haul operations since its India launch in late 2019.
The new service offers per-seat helicopter charters from Goa Airport to North Goa, South Goa, and the old Goa airport. Surla and Saquelim, popular stops for hikers in the north, are also on Blade India's radar.
Fares are $60 per person, compared to $35 by car from Goa Airport to North and South Goa. The flight is just 10 minutes versus two hours by road, Blade India commercial director Payal Satish told AIN. Major cities in India face a common problem of congestion, she said, and Blade provides a perfect solution. Blade is also offering helitour flights of 10 to 15 minutes at $320 for four people.
“Heli-tourism will let us explore the hinterlands of Goa," said Pramod Sawant, chief minister of Goa, at the launch. "We will provide any kind of support for such initiatives to promote tourism in Goa.”
Looking to launch in other Indian states, Blade has identified 40 routes in India that can be converted into dedicated helicopter corridors. To meet the upcoming needs, Blade India has a mix of five new Airbus H125s and H130s on order. Delivery of the first should take place by the end of the year.
Within six months of launching service in Karnataka, 675 passengers flew on Blade flights out of Bangalore. Despite closing two times during the Covid pandemic, the company flew 2,500 passengers from Mumbai to destinations in the state of Maharashtra. Load factor has averaged 80 percent in a leased Bell 206-L4 and Airbus H125, according to Satish.
Blade India recently partnered with Lexus for the launch of the NX 350 automobile at Hilton Retreat in Shillin, flying participants to the event from Mumbai and Pune. The four-hour journey took only 30 minutes by air.