Mumbai: Pawan Hans seeks landing fee waiver for racecourse services

The company has approached the state for a waiver of the steep landing fees at the racecourse helipad; it also plans services from the city to Matheran and Elephanta

After launching its 10-minute joyrides over the city, Pawan Hans Ltd (PHL) is looking at commencing its forthcoming connectivity programmes from the Mahalaxmi racecourse.

However, this government initiative is getting stuck due to the steep landing charges at the racecourse.

PHL is also planning to start its Mumbai-Matheran and Mumbai-Elephanta services. Its officials have asked Maharashtra government’s Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya to waive off landing charges at the Mahalaxmi racecourse, as this would directly result in cost savings, which can be passed on to passengers.

“The current cost per landing of a helicopter, as per our knowledge, is Rs 25,000, which is an extreme cost for us as this will directly result in increased ticket costs,” explained a Pawan Hans official.

Pawan Hans General Manager (Western Region) Sanjay Kumar told mid-day, “In order to promote heli-tourism in the city and the state at large, we want to commence our operations from the racecourse helipad, so that the flying hours to Elephanta do not go up. Hence we have approached the chief secretary to waive off the landing charges.”

On January 13, a joint team of PHL and the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will be conducting a ground recce to Matheran for an on-site inspection, and to identify safety and security issues. MTDC officials said that an air recce will also be done and the programme will commence at the site selected in Matheran, after taking all required permissions from statutory agencies including the state environment ministry.

Vivek Jain, chairman (marketing group), Royal Western India Turf Club, told mid-day, “I am not aware of this (plan to commence helicopter services from Mahalaxmi) as of now, hence I cannot comment on it. However, it isn’t possible to waive off the landing charges.”

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