Tuesday, November 19, 2019

‘BLADE is designed to offer customers the luxury of convenience’

The sign of success in New York is a weekend home in the Hamptons. But what if it took forever to reach the Hamptons on weekends? That used to be a killjoy some years ago. Not anymore. And for that, well-heeled New Yorkers have to thank the BLADE Urban Air Mobility, Inc. In 2014, former Sony and Warner Music Group executive Rob Wiesenthal and GroupMe co-founder Steve Martocci founded this New York-based startup, and since then it has reached South Florida, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

And beginning this week, it is in India. BLADE has kicked off operations from Mumbai, with daily trips to Pune and Shirdi, and between Pune and Shirdi. In India, its first overseas market, BLADE has formed a joint venture—BLADE India—with Delhi-based Hunch Ventures, an equity investment firm that has deployed over $100 million in consumer-facing business in India, to launch the service.

BLADE, backed by Airbus and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt among others, operates on an asset-light model, partnering with chopper operators to offer on-demand flights on its app. Think of it as Uber pool, but in the air. One can either buy individual seats on a flight or charter the full helicopter.

As part of BLADE’s pilot Urban Air Mobility programme in India, choppers depart from its heliport and lounge at Mahalaxmi in Mumbai and fly to its lounges and heliports in Pune’s Mundhwa, and Shirdi, with return flights. There’s also a service between Pune and Shirdi. A one-way ticket on the Mumbai-Shirdi route starts at ₹21,900; on the Mumbai-Pune route it is ₹19,900; and on the Pune-Shirdi route ₹18,900. All prices are devoid of GST.
19/11/19 Abhik Sen/Fortune India
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