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Uber will take to the skies with on-demand helicopter service
For when you need a helicopter right now.
The roads might be feeling a little more crowded lately thanks to the popularity of ridesharing apps, but now one of those services is preparing to offer a way to rise above it. Uber has announced that it is partnering with Airbus to provide on-demand helicopter rides.
The addition of air travel may seem over the top for Uber, but it won’t take long to see how successful it is; the pilot program will take flight next week in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the service will start like a traditional Uber transaction. Passengers will be picked up by Uber vehicles on the ground, which will transport them to their real ride: Airbus H125 and H130 helicopters provided by the European plane maker.
Uber first got its wings back in 2013, when the company tested out a service called UberChopper. The partnership with Blade, an on-demand aviation company based in New York, offered people lifts between New York City and the Hamptons. Rides cost around $3,000.
The UberChopper service has also cropped up around the U.S. during special occasions, including offering rides at Bonaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn. for $1,500. Most recently, Uber offered helicopter rides at the Formula 1 race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Tx. for $400 per person.
It’s not just the air that Uber is interested in; the company also launched various on-demand boating options for special events last year. UberBoats appeared in Miami, Fl.; Sydney, Australia; and Istanbul, Turkey.
With the Airbus partnership, Uber continues its latest tradition of ultra-convenience for those who can afford it. The ventures probably don’t factor in all that much to the company’s bottom line, which was revealed last week to be considerably more red than expected. But it’s probably a nice side gig for a company that serves up side gigs. And given how high surge prices can get, maybe the helicopter ride will look reasonable by comparison.
AJ Dellinger is a seasoned technology writer whose work has appeared in Digital Trends, International Business Times, and Newsweek. In 2018, he joined Gizmodo as the nights and weekend editor.