A US ride-sharing app for helicopters is expanding its operations to India

  • In March 2019, Blade will launch its helicopter app in India.
  • The firm is basing its first operation around the city of Mumbai.
  • Blade has offered services to wealthy Americans since 2014.
BLADE

Blade, which launched a service between Manhattan and the Hamptons in 2014, has announced it will connect the Indian city of Mumbai with heliports at the city of Pune and religious site of Shirdi.

Working with local partners Hunch Ventures, Blade will start the service in March and claims passengers will be able to swap traffic-strewn eight-hour drives into trips as short as 35 minutes.

"India's major cities are consistently ranked as the most congested in the world," Rob Wiesenthal, Blade CEO, said in a press release.

Passengers wanting to use the Blade service must download the app to their iOS or Android phone and enter credit card details.

When a passenger wants to fly, they choose either an existing flight to join at a time that works for them or crowdsource their own flight at a more convenient time.

In the United States, seats on a Blade flight's six-capacity helicopter ride between JFK International Airport and Manhattan can be bought for around $200. Other services in the U.S. include trips originating from heliports and airports around Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Prices for India have not yet been revealed, but with that sort of fare well beyond the reach of the average Indian, the company will be targeting the country's elite society.

Blade investors include Airbus, former Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and chair of Buzzfeed, Kenneth Lerer. The firm has made no secret that it is positioning itself for the rise of electric aviation and urban air travel.