Uber launches helicopter service from Manhattan to JFK airport
July 4, 2020
Uber on Tuesday launched its first helicopter service, ferrying passengers from Manhattan to JFK airport in what it hopes will be a service rolled out across the country.
Customers could order the helicopter on their app and for $200 – $250 one-way (£160-£200) be transported from their homes to the heliport, then straight onto a HeliFlite charter for the eight minute ride to the airport.
The feature was available in all of Manhattan south of Houston Street, and select areas with access to the West Side Highway.
Passengers can request the ride immediately, or up to five days in advance. On arriving in JFK, they can book another “Uber Copter” back into the City.
Uber could not tell The Telegraph how many people had taken advantage of the service, which will operate on Monday to Friday, in the afternoons. It is only available to Platinum and Diamond members of the ride-sharing service – those who have accumulated over 2,500 points. Users gain one point for every Uber Pool or Uber Eats dollar spent, and up to three points for every dollar spent on their luxury Uber XL vehicles.
Passengers on Uber Copter, which seats five people, can bring a hand luggage bag and handbag or laptop case.
Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, has expressed concern about the service, in light of a fatal helicopter crash in June.
“I think we need a full ban on any helicopters going over Manhattan itself,” he said at the time.
Manhattan’s skies are already crowded with tourist helicopters and a rival to Uber, Blade, which allows passengers to fly to local airports or out to the beach in the Hamptons, avoiding a three hour drive or train journey.
Mr de Blasio has also been open about his fears over Uber’s core business of ride shares.
Last month he announced the City would seek to maintain its almost year-old freeze on “for-hire vehicle” registrations, a category that includes black cars, livery cabs, limos, and vehicles hailed by app.
About 80,000 of those vehicles – two-thirds of them – are operated by drivers working for ride-hail companies like Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno.
By comparison there are 13,500 traditional taxi cabs in the City, and a spate of suicides among drivers of yellow cabs has caused a rethink in the congested City’s taxi policy.