Helicopter Service to Sabarimala
Pilgrims who can afford it can fly to Sabarimala shrine this Mandalam-Makaravilakku season. A Kochi based tour operator will start a daily helicopter service to Sabarimala from November 15 onwards to cater to high-end pilgrims and tourists.
The chopper service from Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) will be provided by Santos King Tours & Travels in collaboration with Delhi-based aviation service provider Chipsan Aviation.
“The to-and-fro helicopter service, priced Rs. 34,900 per person can accommodate five persons per flight,” said SanthoshThayil, director of the travel service.
The flight will be up to Perunad, the nearest location which has a helipad facility. From there the devotees would be provided an air-conditioned car facility till Pampa, a distance of 40 km. The next day, they would return via helicopter from Perunad, an hour’s ride to CIAL.
“We plan to operate the service on a revenue sharing basis. The heli-service will continue even after the pilgrimage season at Sabarimala for the tourists,” said Thayil.
This is not the first time that a helicopter service is launched to the hill shrine of Sabarimala. Some years back another tour operator tried the service aimed at pilgrims from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but lack of demand forced the company to halt the operations.
The tour operator is hopeful that they will have enough customers since their service is from Kochi, and from the positive initial response.
If the demand for the service increases, they have plans to utilize a twin-engine helicopter, which has a seating capacity of 18 people.