By Tina Bellon
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Shared transportation company Uber Technologies is taking over New York City, where budget-minded users will soon be able to book helicopter flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport through their applications.
The company announced its offer for 'Uber Copter' on Thursday, saying flights to and from Lower Manhattan will be available to all Uber users on October 7. Uber made the feature available to its premium members in June.
The approximately eight-minute flight will cost between $ 200 and $ 225 per person and will include ground transportation on both sides of the trip. Passengers can carry a small suitcase and watch a safety video before takeoff, similar to that of an airplane.
Uber's prices are roughly comparable to those of its competitors, including Blade, which offers a $ 195 trip to JFK from Manhattan. These services, however, do not provide ground transportation to the final destination.
Uber-brand helicopter flights are operated by HeliFlite Shares, a New Jersey-based charter company.
For now, Uber races to the Manhattan heliport are only available at the south end of the island to prevent customers from getting stuck in traffic and reducing travel time.
Uber says the service is aimed at reducing travel time, but when Reuters tried Copter on Wednesday, a trip from the Midtown office to the airport took 70 minutes, including a subway ride to downtown and two trips to the airport. Uber to and from the heliport. It's about the same time as a regular taxi would take in moderate traffic.
But Uber could gradually expand Manhattan's retreat zone, said Eric Allison, head of Elevate, Uber's air ride program.
"Helicopters are certainly expensive and will be a premium product, but we believe we can provide a very affordable entry point for Uber Copter," Allison said during an interview on Wednesday.
JFK is one of the largest airports in the country, and congested Manhattan car trips can take anywhere from one to two hours, while public transportation takes between 50 and 75 minutes.
The company has partnered with aircraft manufacturers Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Embraer, Mooney International, Pipistrel and Karem Aircraft to develop the vehicles, which are currently available only as a prototype.