On July 18, Blue Mobility and Makuake, a purchasing agent service that supports them, launched a helicopter bus business project on the main island of Okinawa. The deadline is August 25th.
Helibus, a transport infrastructure business that uses four-seater helicopters, one of which is a pilot, to fly through the air, will begin operations on September 2. In the initial stage of opening, the route will cover Naha Airport, Onna Village, Nago and other places. In the future, it is planned to open a route covering Okinawa Main Island from north to south.
The average one-way fare is 20,000 yen. Business days are weekends and holidays. In the future, we will introduce dynamic pricing where the price will change depending on the seat, time of day, peak season, etc., such as a seat with a good view next to the pilot or time of night, but it is expected to be “up to about 35,000 yen”. However, due to the structure of the helicopter, it is not possible to load large luggage, so it is necessary to arrange the delivery of luggage and other items separately.
For the project, Blue Mobility will be in charge of marketing, system development and operations, while Space Aviation, which develops the helicopter taxi and helicopter tour business, will be in charge of the actual operations. Although not yet open as of today, the helicopter booking site plans to be “like a movie theater’s booking page,” with options for dates, times, intervals, and seats (QR codes, etc.), after which it will be a simple system that only You need to board the plane on the spot.
Mr. Takanori Michihiro, CEO of Blue Mobility, pointed out that currently sightseeing tours are often only done in the Naha area and the Kokusai-dori area because of the traffic congestion around Naha Airport and the difficulty of renting a car. He has a sense of crisis. If he does not attract customers from the central and northern regions of the main island and the subsequent consumption, “Okinawa will be eliminated in the future.”
In fact, although Okinawa belongs to the world’s longevity zone, known as part of the blue zone, the population in the northern region is decreasing and the population is aging. With tax revenues expected to decline and local government services to become more difficult to reach, there is also a regional resiliency aspect to the project.
Mr. Michihiro himself is an “insider” (a man from outside the prefecture who married an Okinawan woman) who was born in Osaka and currently lives in Okinawa. The average price of 20,000 yen for a 30-minute one-way helicopter feels cheap even for amateurs, but according to Michihiro, it will be at a loss when it launches. Still, the background behind the business development is his desire to promote tourism in Okinawa. However, in the company’s business, in addition to regular and high-frequency helicopter taxis, there are also non-scheduled helicopter taxis targeting foreign tourists visiting Japan and wealthy individuals, which are expected to become the mainstay of revenue.
In addition, for secondary transport at heliports, we are working with local taxi companies to build a framework for “get off the helicopter and get on the plane”. A similar effort has been made in luggage delivery. We are currently negotiating with the local government. In addition to targeting semi-authorized business, we will also develop more heliports in the future, increase the size of the aircraft (6 seats), and make it a semi-public institution to cooperate with the government.
In addition, the Makuake project handles tickets for the target travel period from September 2, 2024 to February 25 (excluding December 23 to January 7), and the ticket price is 10 yen, 20 tickets 300,000 yen .