Helicopter trips organised for Mumbaiites by chopper operators at the Juhu aerodrome have suffered a setback.
According to a circular issued by the Air Traffic Control (ATC), chopper operators will not be allowed to take people around for aerial tours of the city on weekends and national holidays.
The rule that came into effect last month also does not allow operators to start rides before 3 pm on weekdays. The circular cites lack of manpower at the ATC as the reason for imposing the restrictions.
“There is a demand for chopper rides on holidays and weekends. Now, even on weekdays, we have time only from 3 pm to 6 pm. Our business will suffer,” said Ameya Ghore, spokesperson of Airnetz Aviation, which charges Rs 30,000 and Rs 45,000 for a 45-minute ride in a three-seater and six-seater chopper respectively.
There are about 20 chopper operators in the city, who offer the joyrides from Juhu aerodrome.
In April this year, after creation of the chopper corridors, the preferred southern route along the coast of Mumbai from Juhu to Colaba, which offers an aerial view of the Bandra-Worli sea link, was changed. Operators now have to take another route from Navi Mumbai to Bandra to Colaba, which takes more time and therefore is more expensive.
“The southern view had more takers than the northern one, which is from Juhu to Palghar and back. While earlier we had three rides per week, after the restrictions, we usually have only one,” said Ashok Masurkar, operation head, AAA Aviation, who is hoping the decision will be reverted by the ATC.
Despite repeated attempts, the ATC general manager was not available for comment.