On the Fly

Business - October 15th, 2009

Revolutionary new helicopter service unites central Tokyo and Narita

Imagine being whisked from the center of Tokyo to Narita airport in high style and designer comfort. Mori Building City Air Services (MCAS) at Ark Hills are taking advantage of their unique location close to Tokyo’s central business districts and many embassies to offer a revolutionary helicopter service connecting the city with Narita airport and the world.

The first passengers to fly from Narita were actor Tom Cruise and his family, while they were in Tokyo to promote the actor’s film Valkyrie earlier in the year. I got the chance to be the first representative from the international press to try the new service last month during an exclusive test ride just before the official launch. MCAS uses the Eurocopter EC135, one of the world’s quietest, safest and most efficient helicopters. And leave it to Mori to go the extra step toward a true luxury experience: they have collaborated with fashion house Hermès on a specially-designed helicopter, one of only two in the world.

As we lifted off in the late afternoon, the view of Tokyo was incredible, with Tokyo Tower growing smaller and smaller beneath us. In a matter of minutes we could see Disneyland, and before we even had time to take in the trademark brown leather interior, the rice paddies and pine trees of Narita were below us. The descent was smooth and effortless, and the awaiting staff displayed the precision and courtesy Japan is famed for. The other passengers on my journey included editors from some of Japan’s leading broadsheets, whose cool-headed professionalism was interspersed with gasps of joy at the view below.

After a brief stop (with no time to finish our courtesy beverages) we were airborne once again, and just as the sun was setting and the neon twinkle began to light up, we landed back on the helipad at Ark Hills tower. Our comfortable return flight to Narita lasted a mere 30 minutes (and with no crowds, train delays or luggage stress).

Those with an interest in giving the service a go will be glad to discover that pricing is competitive with airport limo and private car services, especially considering the doorstep limousine pick-up service and the rapid flight time—just fifteen minutes to Narita heliport followed by a fifteen-minute limo ride to the main terminal. This is less than half the time it takes by train or car, so when time is a luxury, that business meeting in Shanghai or trip home to visit family in London is now that much closer.

The adventure ended just as quickly as it began—and that’s the point, making the transition between boardroom and check-in lounge as seamless as possible. With the foresight of Mori Building, the largest city in the world just got that bit smaller.


Special introductory prices:
Standard edition: one way ¥38,000, round trip ¥70,000 (until December 31).
Hermès edition: one way ¥57,000, round trip ¥105,000 (until December 31).

Photo credits:
Photos courtesy of  Mori Building City Air Services