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Fly Blade, Inc., a digitally-powered aviation company and the largest arranger of helicopter flights for civilian travel in the United States, has announced the launch of an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) pilot program in India, initially connecting Mumbai, departing from Juhu and Mahalaxmi, with heliports in Pune and Shirdi.
BLADE has formed a joint venture (BLADE India) with Hunch Ventures, an equity investment firm that has deployed over $100 million in consumer facing business in India, to launch the service. BLADE India is also partnering with several key Hunch portfolio companies, including Quintessentially, the largest luxury travel concierge in India, and GoodTimes, a television network seen in over 50 million high-end households nationwide.
BLADE India, launching this March, will enable fliers to helicopter between BLADE Lounges being constructed at convenient urban heliports, avoiding large commercial airports entirely as they transform unpredictable four to eight hours drives into short 35-minute flights.
“Hunch partners with global leaders to bring new services to the fastest growing economy in the world,” said Karanpal Singh, founder of Hunch. “Given the challenges of building transportation infrastructure in our country, we will utilize India’s existing network of heliports to launch a UAM solution immediately.”
“India’s major cities are consistently ranked as the most congested in the world,” said Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of BLADE. “By broadening consumers’ access to on-demand aviation, we can start to mitigate these issues today, while building the foundation for Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) services tomorrow.”
Former AirAsia CEO Amar Abrol has been named CEO of BLADE India, bringing deep local aviation experience to the venture.
“BLADE’s technology, customer experience, and highly-recognized brand give BLADE India the backbone it needs to offer a desirable and scalable product,” said Abrol. “We look forward to working closely with the relevant Indian authorities as we expand our offerings across the country.”