Mumbai: India’s largest private helicopter company Global Vectra Helicop Ltd, catering to offshore oil drilling fields, plans to start shuttle services to link airports within cities.
Flight plan: Global Vectra CEO David Hayler says ground infrastructure will have to be developed.
“Flying between airports is an excellent opportunity,” said David Hayler, chief executive of Global Vectra. “A chopper service will cut your two-hour travel to 20 minutes. But India needs to develop ground infrastructure to support this.”
The Mumbai-based helicopter company, which recently decided to focus on onshore operations such as heli-tourism and charter services, is exploring strategic partnerships in smaller airports to set up heliports.
The company is targeting passengers who would want to quickly switch between airports. New airports, such as those in Bangalore and Hyderabad, are located on the outskirts of the city, and helicopter shuttle services could cover the distance faster.
Shuttle services are the trend worldwide, he said. For instance, US-based Delta Air Lines Inc. has offered complimentary chopper services to its business class travellers. The carrier will take passengers to JFK International Airport from New York city heliports.
First and business class passengers would want to fly to distant airports in helicopters, said a Mumbai-based aviation analyst, who did not want to be identified.
“Global Vectra’s plans to enter heliports is a logical extension of its business. However, offshore would remain its main bread and butter,” he said. Hayler agreed. The company has no plans to shift its focus from offshore activities, which will continue to contribute 80% of Global Vectra’s revenue, he said.
“Realistically, we are looking at a 60:40 revenue mix in coming years from offshore and onshore. In offshore, we will explore international projects in West Asia and other areas,” he said.
Global Vectra has 23 helicopters and is buying more, the chief executive said.
The ministry of civil aviation has declared 2008 the year of helicopter services. The Centre plans to set up heliports in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
UB Group-controlled Kingfisher Airlines Ltd also plans to start heli-taxi services for its passengers from certain heliports to airports, in addition to other chartering businesses.
Global Vectra is currently tying up with tourism boards and companies. “We will be using our Eurocopter brand helicopters for heli-skiing. Our helicopters are capable of landing at Mount Everest,” Hayler said.