HYDERABAD: On the occasion of World Tourism Day on Sept 27, Tourism Minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar had launched the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation’s (APTDC) chopper service amid much fanfare.
A 15-minute joy ride with spectacular aerial views of landmarks like the Birla Mandir, Golconda Fort and the Charminar, the trip was even priced at Rs 2,950 per head.
Now, six months on, the project hasn’t moved an inch and it is learnt that the APTDC is in talks with aviation companies other than the original partner Deccan Aviation Pvt Ltd to get it off the ground.
“If all goes well, we hope to run the service for tourists and citizens soon,” said a high-ranking official of an aviation company on the condition of anonymity.
But the APTDC officials denied the development.
B Manohar, deputy general manager, APTDC, said, “The project is very much on.
Our responsibility was to provide infrastructure for which we are ready with the air strip and counters in a land adjacent to the Snow World at Tank Bund.
The project will be operational on the day the Deccan Aviation Pvt Ltd obtains an NOC from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), New Delhi.” It may be noted that the Deccan Aviation Pvt Ltd had gone on record, at the time of elections in Uttar Pradesh, claiming that they had the requisite clearances but was unable to run the service due to demand for choppers in that state.
Around the same time, the then tourism secretary Jayesh Ranjan too had said that the department had asked the Deccan Aviation Private Limited to get clearances from the relevant authorities and that they were waiting for a team of DGCA officials from Delhi to come and inspect the helipad.
The chopper, a BEL-47, which could carry up to six passengers was to take off every half-an-hour from the Lower Tank Bund.
The ticket for the chopper ride was fixed at `2,950 per head.
Helicopter pilot Col.
(Retd) Mandeep Singh, at the time of the launch in September, had described the BEL-47 as “a small Mercedez Benz with all sorts of comforts and as one of the most advanced passenger helicopters in the world.”