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Mallya adds copters to Kingfisher fleet

Mallya adds copters to Kingfisher fleet

Mumbai: To start a helicopter chartering division for corporate customers, billionaire Vijay Mallya’s full-service airline Kingfisher Airlines Ltd is negotiating a purchase of helicopters from Mumbai-based helicopter services company Global Vectra Helicorp Ltd.

The UB Group-promoted airline has already acquired two brand new helicopters made by Eurocopter Group, a division of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. NV. An affiliate company of Global Vectra, which operates 21 helicopters in India mostly engaged by oil companies for transporting engineers and equipment, is a distribution agent for Eurocopter in India.

S.J.S Saighal, chairman, Global Vectra, confirmed his company is in talks with the UB Group, the main promoter of Kingfisher Airlines, but declined details.

A Eurocopter-made helicopter comes at a listed price of an average $6 million, or Rs24.3 crore.

A person familiar with the development, requesting anonymity, said the UB Group is looking to buy at least two helicopters.

Hitesh Patel, executive vice-president of Kingfisher Airlines, said the charter division would be separate from the heli-charter business of Deccan Aviation Ltd, a low-fare airline his firm is merging into. “Anybody can charter these helicopters for their requirements. To add, passengers of Kingfisher Airlines can use this chartering option to reach various points of city from airports," he said.

Mallya had earlier indicated that his airline is keen on starting heli-taxi services to ferry Kingfisher’s first-class passengers from airports to other parts of cities. For instance, first-class passengers can avail this services to reach downtown Bangalore from that city’s new airport at Devanahalli which, when it opens for operations, will be about a two-hour drive from the city.

“Certainly, this will not be a free service. Even first-class passengers will have to pay for availing this service," said the person familiar with the plan. Kingfisher is finalizing the cabin configuration for its helicopters.

Global Vectra is part of the UK-based $700 million, or Rs2,835 crore, Vectra Group. It recently decided to induct two Bell 412 type helicopters for offshore operations and one Eurocopter’s EC135 helicopter for some $26 million.

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