If you have been sharing a Cool Cab between Mumbai and Pune for Rs 300 per head, you could soon consider sharing a chartered flight for Rs 200 more.
A Mumbai-based charter service company, Airnetz Aviation, is in the process of acquiring 25 small aircraft. From mid-2009, it plans to start the Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai service and extend the service to other metros and smaller cities. The service will be non-scheduled: there will be no fixed timings and flights will take off as and when seats are sold out. Flying time between Mumbai and Pune is 15 to 20 minutes.
“This’ll make travel faster and affordable. The four-seater, single-engine aircraft’s hourly operating cost will approximately be Rs 2,000 and a twin-engine, five-seater plane around Rs 4,000,” said Airnetz CEO Atul Khekade.
The service, called Air Taxi, will work on short haul trips. “We have two routes in mind: Mumbai-Pune and Delhi-Shimla,” he Khekade added.
“Several people book a for Rs 1,200 from Mumbai to Pune if they don’t find people to share the fare. They wouldn’t mind paying Rs 800 more for a flight,” said Khekade.
A senior marketing official with a state-owned helicopter service company, requesting anonymity, said small planes got plenty of attention during the recently held air show in Bangalore. “Small planes were the show-stealers. For us, it is too early to consider buying them.”
Aviation experts think it is a good concept but too nascent for the Indian market. “The concept has to be tried and tested in India,” said Gurcharan Bhatura, secretary general of Federation of Aviation and Sustainable Tourism.