- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

Uber is going airborne with the ride-hailing company’s latest expansion by soon offering helicopter service to and from New York City’s busiest airport.

Known as Uber Copter, the service will shuttle passengers between helicopter pads located in lower Manhattan and John F. Kennedy International Airport starting July 9, The New York Times first reported Wednesday.

The service will exist under the umbrella of Uber Elevate, an ambitious air transportation division of the company launched in 2016, and only available at first to members in the top tiers of its loyalty program, Uber Rewards.

Flights will take around eight minutes and cost an average of between $200 and $225 per person, the report said — a fraction of the time it typically takes to get to JFK, albeit at a considerably higher cost.

The same trip typically takes upwards of an hour by car or subway, and New York City requires taxi cabs to charge a flat rate of $52 for any trips between JFK and Manhattan. Cars ordered through the Uber app vary in cost depending depend on demand, though the price listed for a ride during rush hour Thursday afternoon ranged from $137 for a shared car, to $220 for a private SUV.

“This is a trip that so many travelers make a day, and we see an opportunity to save them a huge amount of time on it,” Eric Allison, the head of Uber Elevate, told The Times.

“Our plan is to eventually roll out Uber Copter to more Uber customers and to other cities, but we want to do it right,” Mr. Allison said. “The main goal of this initial venture is to understand the operations behind aerial vehicles.”

Started in San Francisco in 2009, Uber boasted nearly 95 million active users, including drivers in passengers, as of December 2018. The company currently operates in more than 700 cities across 63 countries and is responsible for facilitating 14 million trips per day, according to its website.

A whitepaper released in tandem with the launch of Uber Elevate discussed potentially using helicopters for “on-demand urban air transportation.” Another division of Uber Elevate, Uber Air, previously announced plans to provide commercial flights starting as soon as 2020.

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