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executive impact

A quick hop to Narita and back

By Chris Betros

Last September, Mori Building Co Ltd and Mori Building City Air Services Co Ltd (MCAS) launched the Narita Airline Connection Service, using a luxury EC135 Hermes edition helicopter, the result of collaboration between world-renowned European helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter and French fashion house Hermes.

The helicopter can comfortably seat four passengers with ample room for relaxation and for luggage. Taking approximately 30 minutes (15-minute helicopter flight + 15-minute limousine transportation), this regular chartered service provides swift transportation by helicopter between central Tokyo (ARK Hills/Akasaka) and Narita International Airport. There is a total of 22 round-trip flights per day.

The one-way fare is 38,000 yen and 70,000 yen return. However, MCAS has tied up with some airlines to offer the helicopter service as part of their service. If you do take the flight, you’ll be in good company. Other high flyers who have used the service include actors Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ken Watanabe.

Japan Today editor Chris Betros visits Shin to hear more about the service.

How has the response been since you started the Narita Airline Connection Service last September?

To date, we have had about 150 customers per month, which is a good start. However, we are now targeting 300 a month. In order to achieve this goal, we have been putting a lot of efforts into our sales and promotional activities.

Who mainly uses the service? Foreign execs or Japanese execs?

On average, it’s about 60% Japanese and 40% foreign. At first, Japanese tended to be a bit more conservative than foreigners because they are not accustomed to using helicopters as a means of transportation.

With how many airlines have you negotiated to include the helicopter ride as part of a first-class airfare?

We have already started offering the service for ANA first-class passengers and we are discussing expanding it to their business class, as well. This month, we started offering the service to American Airlines business class ticket holders. JAL business class passengers will be able to fly with us from April 1, and we also have deals with Lufthansa for first class and with Alitalia for their first, business and economy class.

Won’t JAL’s bankruptcy affect your deal?

Not very much. We have been assured by the airline and the government that JAL will keep flying.

Is it easy to negotiate with airline companies?

Fortunately, I have a good network from my last job. I worked at ANA for 43 years before leaving to join Mori Building in 2009. ANA kindly supported our new business and this laid the groundwork allowing us to more easily negotiate with other airline companies.

Why did you tie up with Hermes? Are you targeting women customers?

The philosophy of President Minoru Mori is to offer the best quality service to our customers. By collaborating with Hermes, we can offer our passengers the most comfortable trip. The interior of the cabin features high-quality calf leather seats and is lined from floor to ceiling with Hermes signature “Toile H” material, which has been used for Hermes travel goods since the 1920s. But we are not specifically targeting women; the current ratio of men to women using our service is 80:20.

How are you actually marketing the service?

The Narita Airline Connection Service is really still in its trial stage since it hasn’t been done before. We need to raise the traveling public’s awareness more. Mori Building uses a variety of media such as TV, magazines and newspapers for cost-effective advertising. Our domestic campaign has been very successful. For overseas promotion, we rely on our homepage and some banner ads on sites like Japan Today to reach out to executives overseas traveling to Japan. Now we are asking travel agencies abroad to distribute our brochures, and we continue working to build relationships with airlines, hotels and other partners.

Have you thought about services from other parts of Tokyo to Narita or to Haneda?

These are options for the future, but not right away. The plan and priority right now is to develop the business in Minato Ward first.

How many pilots do you have?

Currently, the service has three pilots.

Why doesn’t the flight go straight to the terminal instead of landing at a heliport 15 minutes away from the airport?

One reason is for time management. It would be possible to fly a helicopter into the airport, but you are subject to air traffic control ... and with the huge number of commercial flights taking off and landing, we would probably have to wait a while before getting permission to fly into the controlled airspace and land. Secondly, the helicopter cannot land right by the terminal. The hangar is quite a distance from the terminal and that would not be convenient for customers.

Our Sakura heliport is not in controlled airspace, so as soon as you land, we can whisk you to the terminal in a limo in 15 minutes.

What is a typical day for you?

I put most of my energy into marketing. For example, I meet executives from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s Tokyo Regional Civil Aviation Bureau. I also go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I have been lobbying embassies to use and promote our service. Sometimes, I meet with the major travel agencies as well.

I hear some famous people have already used your helicopter.

Yes, last year, Tom Cruise used our service. He was a very nice guy. Leonardo DiCaprio and Ken Watanabe also used our helicopter. Many different people have used the service and we've had great feedback from them.

For reservations, visit http://www.mcas.co.jp.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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if you can afford the first-class, the heli service costs peanuts...

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What about noise? The ANA Intercontinental is right next door, not to mention people living nearby. Helicopters are'nt exactly quiet. Did anyone protest?

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How come the return flight costs so much more?

Moderator: It doesn't. The round trip is 70,000 yen.

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goddog, I assume they are referring to a roundtrip fair.

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there are already helicopter flights in/around Tokyo so no big deal & they dont land/take off from the street but roof tops!


that price is for a roundtrip not one way trip NRT to Tokyo!

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That's "fare".

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GW, true enough, the Ark Hills Mori building is 37 floors high. But I stand by my comment. Helicopters are still noisy at that altitude and I wouldn't want to live in the area and listen to 22 takeoffs and landings a day.

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And not everyone lives at street level. If you live in a high-rise nearby you're that much closer.

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Paulinusa, I used to work in that area and you don't notice the noise. It's so high up and the city ain't exactly quiet anyway.

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Other high flyers who have used the service include actors Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ken Watanabe.

this isn't exactly a selling point

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ark hills-tokyo eki by taxi: 10 mins, about 800 yen...NEX 55 mins, 2800 yen ...for only a 30 minute time savings, where's the value in spending 35000 yen more for the same trip ?

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No one knows what their helicopter is super luxury, only two exists in the world! It's worth to experience onec in my lifetime. It doesn't buzz around.

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i wanted to take it, but father of my ex b.friend said, they have had many accidents. didnt know, if it is true or he simply didnt want us to spend 70,000 yen. Next time will try to take Hermes heli, should be cool

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Once again, another article on JT, advertising a service which is totally irrelevant to 99.9% of the readers.

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People who can afford the helicopter probably don't mind spending the money to be away from the crowds. People like Cruise and DiCaprio probably don't want to get mobbed on the NEX for an hour - they want to relax. And they can afford it.

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thats true but this is being marketed towards regular travellers

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MK taxi can take you to the airport for 20,000 (flat rate) door to door service, and it normally take 1 hour to get there door to door from Shibuya.

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The New Keisei Skyliner opening later this year will take you from Narita Airport to Nippori Station in 36minutes, from there you can make local connections, still pretty darn fast for only 2400yen. One could argue it's faster then the chopper because the chopper you have to go 15 minutes from the airport terminal to the chopper pad, where the train is at the airport itself.

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I would love to hear from any readers who have used this service. I would sincerely like to hear a first-hand account and hear how it was? Anyone?

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Increasing the Helicopter Traffic within a residential, that already has a lot of similar traffic, is bound to lead to an accident one day! But in Japan, you can't sue like you can in the US.

As for the ticket price, forget it! 70K return vs 6K return.. hmm... what can you spend 64K on ? Even for Executives, the time saved doesn't really make sense. (Best case you'd save 2 hours in your commute to & from Narita.... but that's if you lived in Roppongi!). The better solution is to move the airport !

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Last month on a business trip my wife and I took the Narita Helicopter Shuttle service into Tokyo and returned to Narita a few days later, on past trips we had taken a limo to our hotel in Tokyo. The helicopter service itself is very efficient, upon clearing custom and exiting into the arrivals lounge we found the staff member there waiting to greet us and take us to the limo (you must find them, they can't find you), your luggage is loaded into the trunk and you have a short drive to the helo pad where you are placed into a very nice Helicopter and seat-belted in, no fancy service, refreshments or photography just a quick trip into Tokyo, we were the only passengers aboard so there was no waiting for departure, once we arrived on the rooftop we took the elevator down to an awaiting limo, our bags were loaded and we were on our way for a short trip to the Ritz-Carlton. All in all not a bad way to get around and the price is not all that exorbitant at $770 R/T each for this mode of transportation, although in some ways I prefer riding the limo from Narita, you climb in sit back and relax all the way to your hotel, when I arrive after a 12 hour flight I'm not as concerned about the time as I am about the comfort and ease of travel, I want to arrive at the hotel rested so I can enjoy dinner and cocktails and remain awake until about 10:00PM, the limo service affords me this and serves my purpose. Our departure trip was about the same, uneventful and the reverse of our arrival, we were once again the only two passengers on the shuttle. When traveling alone or with business partners (especially those who are making their first trip to Japan) I will take the NEX into Tokyo I do enjoy riding the trains.

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Thank you for the account. Despite my doubts, and although one swallow doth not a summer make I at least know one reader has in fact availed himself of it. Sounds like the service is efficient and enjoyable. Thanks again for sharing.

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Yes, last year, Tom Cruise used our service. He was a very nice guy.

So, no jumping on the seats, taking his shirt off, and shouting his love for Katie?


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i might try this once... sure, it's pricy, but if you are late for your flight or thinking of getting a cab? i think this is much better. I hope soon there will be be more similar services so competition would bring the prices down. Great move, Mori!

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