Heli-tourism witnessing significant flight
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Heli-tourism witnessing significant flight

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: While the unavoidable delays in take-offs due to bad weather have bled all major airlines in the country of their valuable resources, there’s yet another kind of air-travel companies that seem to be raking in the moolah, and in a big way.
Companies operating heli-tourism services—Pawan Hans Helicopters, Deccan Aviation’s heli-charter arm, United Helicharters, Jagson Airlines and Global Vectra Helicorp are the more prominent ones in the market—are having a ball by offering tourists a countryside view or animal gazing from a height of around 1,000 feet. The Economic Times reported this today.

“Helicopters fly around 175 km per hour slower than airplanes giving tourists the time to enjoy the countryside view,” head (sales & liaison) of Deccan Aviation, Lt. Col Arun Rao told ET.

Deccan Aviation, which also operates the low-cost carrier Air Deccan, offers various heli-charter packages. For example, a package visit to the heritage sites of Hampi-Belur from Bangalore is available for Rs 3,90,000 for six people (including accommodation, meals and helicopter ride from Jakkur to Belur and back). Though the packages come quite expensive, the company finds many takers. Helitourism operations, in fact, account for over 7 percent of the annual revenue of Deccan Aviation.


“More and more Indian customers are now interested in helitourism which for long has been popular among inbound travelers,” said Rao. As the concept of heli-tourism is gaining popularity, heli-charter companies like Jagson Air-lines and Global Vectra Helicorp, among others, are planning to expand their operations.


Jagson Airlines incidentally offers heli-tourism services for various pilgrimage sites, and is now targeting inbound pilgrims. The airline is said to be adding two more helicopters to its fleet by May 2007 at an estimated investment of Rs 20-25 crore. “These copters will be used to expand our tourism operations,” a Jagson Airline official told the publication.


Another player, Global Vectra Helicorp, plans to add eight new 13-seater helicopters to its existing fleet by May 2007. “We will be flying to various pilgrim spots and weekend destinations. With more players entering the market next year, helitourism will become more affordable in India,” said Himanshu Hota, manager (operations & administration), Global Vectra Helicorp.

Industry watchers opine that helitourism operations, hitherto untouched, have a great potential in the long run. “Although there has recently been some interest in the helitourism segment, at the moment it is very limited. However, in the long-term, the potential of helitourism, air-taxis and charter services is enormous,” said Kapil Kaul, India CEO of Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).


Giving competition to private palyers, state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters has been present in the segment since a long time. “As part of its services, Pawan Hans, in association with the Sikkim government, offers a 10-minute heli-copter joy ride over the Kanchenjunga Mountains for Rs 2,000. This is a subsidized service with 75 percent of the cost of the ride being borne by the government and only 25 percent being paid by the tourists,” Sanjay Kumar, deputy general manager (marketing), Pawan Hans Helicopters was quoted by ET.

Meanwhile, a Gurgaon-based real estate player MDLR Group has included heli-tourism services in its plans of launching its new passenger airline. Though the trend is gaining ground in India, experts opine that the market potential remains largely untapped.




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