Blade Urban Air Mobility Program in India: The air-taxi has begun operations in Mumbai, Pune, and Shirdi, today
Blade Air Taxi Service in India: BLADE India – the Indian arm of US-based start-up BLADE Urban Air Mobility, Inc, which has rolled out its services in India, has positioned itself as a premium service. With this, the company will not advertise instead it will focus on creating loyalty programs and will depend on financial service providers such as American Express. “ This is a new product for a market like India which is targetted at the urban population. We have just started and we will rely on word-of-mouth in addition to digital. On digital, we plan to drive a very targetted conversation. We don’t plan to advertise, currently, especially on traditional medium” Rob Wiesenthal, CEO, BLADE, told BrandWagon Online.
Citizens in Mumbai and Pune will be able to avail of its services, starting today. The company has rolled out inaugural discounts for users. At present, inaugural fares for Mumbai-Pune is Rs 19,900, while Mumbai-Shirdi is Rs 18,900. The choppers at present depart from Juhu and Mahalaxmi, with heliports in Pune and Shirdi. According to Karanpal Singh, founder, Hunch Ventures, the company follows an asset-light model. “ There are about 300 helicopters in the country. This includes the ones used by the government as well as private choppers. We use them as per the number of services we run. In all the choppers have a capacity to accommodate six persons for one journey. We plan to run two-three services every day,” Singh added.
The service has been rolled out under the ‘Urban Air Mobility (UAM) pilot program. The company plans to add more routes in the future. “We are looking at entering North and South India, where we plan to provide services four to eight times a week. Within the South, we are looking at entering markets such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, among others,” Singh said.
BLADE is a joint-venture with Hunch Ventures, an equity investment firm that seems to have put in more than $100 million in consumer-facing businesses in India. Additionally, BLADE has partnered with several key Hunch portfolio companies, including Quintessentially, one of the largest luxury travel concierge in India, and GoodTimes, a television network. For Wiesenthal, the tie-up with GoodTimes is purely from the perspective to attract eyeballs, “and there is no revenue share deal, involved in it,” he noted. In the US, its parent operates its air taxi in New York, Miami, San Francisco Airport (SFO), among others.