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NY-based aviation start-up BLADE to start operations in India

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on December 05, 2018 Published on December 05, 2018

New York-based aviation start-up BLADE is set to fly in India. It works on an aggregator model wherein it ties up with charter flight operators. The company is set to formally launch Urban Air Mobility, a pilot programme in India, in March 2018. Initially, it will connect Juhu and Mahalaxmi to Pune and Shirdi.

Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of BLADE, told BusinessLine that that charter flights between Mahalaxmi and Shirdi currently costs around $8,000 but by using BLADE’s application, one can share the helicopter ride by booking a single seat. This will lead to cutting down the price and thus making these charter flights available for a cheaper rate.

BLADE will work on the asset-light model and thus, the company will not purchase flights but will tie-up with charter flight operators on a “contractual basis”. It will play the role of a service aggregator by providing services to those who wish to book a seat for the route. BLADE will use integrated technology in three formats. The app, which will be available on Android and IOS, an accounting dashboard, will monitor the back-end work and a cockpit software.

BLADE is in the midst of getting permission from the Airports Authority of India and the Civil Aviation Ministry to set up BLADE lounges at all the start points of the routes. While BLADE is headquartered in Delhi, the company will start its operations in Mumbai due “security issues at Delhi” said Karanpal Singh, Founder of Hunch Ventures.

BLADE has formed a joint venture with Hunch for the India business. Singh added: “Mumbai is the financial capital and has a large scope because several people use the Mumbai and Pune routes regularly which create friction in travel and thus, it is an opportunity for us.”

Amar Abrol, ex-AirAisa CEO and Managing Director, has been roped in as a consultant to head the India operations. “Initially, BLADE will operate three times a week or four times a week. The goal however after a couple of quarters is to cater to a larger audience and in multiple cities,” Abrol said.

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Published on December 05, 2018
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