Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
High-flying in Tokyo
Are you are a frequent flyer to Japan looking for a faster, more luxurious way to get to Tokyo from the airport? Hiring a Hermes helicopter may be the ticket for you.
When I travel overseas, the trip usually begins or ends with a bus ride, costing 2,900 yen ($27) to get to Narita International Airport. But for business executives flying across the world to sign multi-million dollar deals, a 75,000 yen ($720) helicopter ride may be an option worth considering.
Business travellers often complain about the 78 km trek between Tokyo and Narita. After a 12-hour flight from major cities like New York, Frankfurt or Paris, a 90-minute bus ride, at least, on a congested highway into Japan’s financial capital only adds to that fatigue.
But starting Sept. 16, high-flying travellers can choose a more convenient and stylish transport option to the city centre, if they have the yen — literally.
Japanese private property developer Mori Building is launching a luxury helicopter service connecting Tokyo’s central business district and a heliport adjacent to Narita Airport. A limousine ferries clients to and from the departure terminal.
Travel time between the check-in counter and downtown Tokyo will now take only 30 minutes, Mori Building says.
It costs 50,000 yen ($485) for a one-way trip on a standard helicopter. If you’re willing to pay an extra 25,000 yen, your chopper can be upgraded to the EC135 Hermes Edition, built as a collaboration between EADS-owned Eurocopter and Paris-based fashion designer Hermes.
Last week, I took a ride in this $10 million helicopter, also known as ‘L’Helicoptere par Hermes’, one of two operating in the world. The exterior is a white design, decorated with Hermes’ signature orange ribbon. The interior is minimalist with four calf-leather hand-crafted seats. The non-smoking sign and even the buckles of the safety belts display the Hermes brand.
Once the helicopter takes off and reaches a cruising speed of 250 kph, you realise the cabin is surprisingly quiet and vibration is hardly noticeable. If you indulge yourself by bringing a bottle of champage on board, you won’t have to worry about the glass spilling (yes, we tested it out, but with sparkling water).
The view of the Tokyo metropolis outside the light-brown tinted windows is striking, and if you’re lucky to have an evening flight, you will enjoy a glittering night view of Japan’s financial hub that will either welcome you or be a memorable sayonara.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao