SHIMLA: The travel distance between this Himachal Pradesh tourist resort and Chandigarh was reduced to just 20 minutes with the launch of a heli-taxi service on Monday.
The state government in association with helicopter service operator Pawan Hans Ltd launched a to and fro heli-taxi service on the Chandigarh-Shimla route, cutting down the earlier four hours travel time.
Each sortie, with 19 passengers on board, will offer a minimum fare of Rs 2,999 per person. It will initially ply twice a week, Monday and Friday.
The helicopter will take off from Shimla's airport at Jubbarhatti at 8 a.m. and reach the Chandigarh International Airport at 8.20 a.m.
And from Chandigarh to Shimla, the flight will take off at 9 a.m. and reach Shimla at 9.20 a.m., an official with Pawan Hans told IANS.
He said the frequency of heli-taxi service would be increased depending on response of the passengers.
Otherwise, it takes minimum four hours to travel between Shimla and Chandigarh by road.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur flagged off the first service from Shimla. He said this would greatly help to boost the tourism industry in the state.
The government is also planning to start heli-taxi service between Chandigarh and Manali and sortie service from Manali to the majestic Rohtang Pass, an official said.
Members of the tourism industry are elated as they are hopeful that high-end tourists, especially foreigners and business travellers, will prefer to visit the state capital and its nearby destinations by flights.
"We are hopeful that the heli-taxi service will give boost to the tourism industry," D.P. Bhatia, liaison officer with Shimla-based Oberoi Group of hotels, told IANS.