If all goes well, the helicopter service to ten destinations from here will be a reality before March 2013, as per the proposal submitted by the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) at the recently concluded ‘Emerging Kerala’ meet.
The project aims to connect the two tourist spots in Tamil Nadu and eight centres in the state with Kochi.
“There will be services from Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode and we are planning to have three Dhruv helicopters initially. Each aircraft will have the capacity to carry 14 passengers along with two crew members,” said K P S Kurup, consultant to KCCI. “It is expected that the services can be started in the financial year itself,” he said.
The total cost of the yet to-be-named helicopter service project, is Rs 121.63 crore and the KCCI will invest 25 per cent of the total cost. The proposal seeks for funds from the NRIs and other potential investors. Munnar, which is 143 kilometres away from here and which normally takes five hours by road, can be reached in less than 30 minutes as it is only 84 kilometres by air. A maximum of Rs 4,000 can be charged from each passenger to Wayanad, the destination farthest from here. “The trips will be regular and we will be in touch with the top hotels for getting the passengers,” said Kurup. They will lease out helipads with a minimum area of 3,000 square feet, in all destinations. “The place for landing requires a space of only one-fourth of a football court and by leasing we can reduce the initial costs,” he said. The cost for flying the helicopter for one hour alone will be around Rs 30,000.
“The company is not availing of any loan from the financial institutions. Instead, it is aiming at the investment from the NRIs eying long-term profits,” said Kurup. The trips would be feasible if they get a minimum of eight passengers in each trip. The company will expand its operations to all the district capitals, tourist centres in the later stage.
The KCCI had proposed a convention centre too in the four-acre land in Bolgatty, with a capital of Rs 115 crore. As in the case of the helicopter service, the KCCI will invest 25 per cent of the total cost of the centre also.