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article imageUber New York helicopter service opens to all account members

By Ken Hanly     Oct 3, 2019 in Technology
Earlier in 2019, Uber the ride-hailing company began to offer helicopter trips from downtown Manhattan to the J.F. Kennedy International Airport but only to select passengers.
The trips beginning at a cost of $200 per person are now being offered to anyone with an Uber account.
Service includes Uber rides to helipads and then to the airport
Trips are only from the helipad located in lower Manhattan. You will need to take an Uber trip to the pad and then an eight minute helicopter ride to the airport itself. The trip is available Monday through Friday but during the afternoon rush hour only. Depending on demand prices can rise as high as $225 per person.
Uber gathering data for expansion of its air taxi business
Uber hopes the data from its New York project will aid it to develop a full air taxi business by 2023 using lightweight electric aircraft. However, these aircraft are yet to be produced for commercial service so that Uber is using the helicopters for now.
Uber Copter is operated by a company called HeliFlite, a company that also provides flights between Manhattan and the Hamptons. The Hamptons are a popular summer destination for well-off New Yorkers: "The Hamptons, part of the East End of Long Island, comprise a group of villages and hamlets in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, which together form the South Fork of Long Island, in Suffolk County, New York. The Hamptons form a popular seaside resort and one of the historical summer colonies of the northeastern United States."
Eric Allison, who heads up Uber Elevate said of the Manhattan service: “This is our first step to what will become a future Uber Air network."
Company bills the services as a time saver
Uber sees its service as a time-saver for those wanting to get to the JF Kennedy airport during rush hour: "Including the time it takes an Uber car to transport customers to the helipad in Manhattan, Uber hopes that Uber Copter will bring total transport times between NYC and JFK down to as little as half an hour. That compares with the one hour it typically takes the drive the route, which can take up to two hours or longer in the city’s bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. The Long Island Railroad, meanwhile, typically takes between 50 and 75 minutes to make the journey."
The time saving depends upon where one is in New York obviously. A Reuters reporter noted: "Uber says the service is intended to reduce travel times, but when Reuters tried Copter on Wednesday, a trip from its Midtown office to the airport took 70 minutes, including a subway ride downtown and two Uber rides to and from the heliport. That’s about the same time it would have taken by regular taxi in moderate traffic." However, Uber pointed out that the outbound service to JFK is only available to Uber customers who are in the vicinity of the helipad. At any rate, the Reuters trial shows that only if one is near the helipad will one save much time from using the service. However, the Reuters trial was also only when traffic was moderate. When traffic was heavy the savings in time would be more. The appended video shows a person actually using the service.
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