The Next Big Thing

Uber brings helicopter rental service to Shanghai and Hangzhou

Taxi-hailing app company will offer tourists a birds' eye view - for a few thousand yuan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 April, 2015, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 10:16am

Taxi-hailing app company Uber will launch its helicopter rental services in Shanghai and Hangzhou , expanding a service that began in the United States last year.

The company said on its Weibo account that from tomorrow, registered users of its app would be able to book a 30-minute flight within Shanghai on an EC135 helicopter.

A chauffeur-driven Mercedes will pick up passengers and take them on to their destination after the flight.

Trips will cost 2,999 yuan (HK$3,800) per person. The helicopter, worth 60 million yuan, is provided by Shanghai-based Kaijet Aviation.

"No need to get stuck for an hour moving only one kilometre downtown, or to face endless red traffic lights every two minutes. You could fly in a super helicopter and get a bird's-eye view of beautiful Shanghai," the Weibo post said.

Shanghai media said the helicopter service was likely to attract tourists or couples dating or planning weddings, since it would pass many of the city's landmarks including the Shanghai Expo Park, Century Park and the Huangpu River.

Local media also reported that Uber would start the helicopter service in Hangzhou in May, flying a single 20-minute route to and from a hotel in the city and taking in the main tourist attractions of the West Lake and the Qiantang River.

The flight would cost a few thousand yuan per person and would use a four- to six-seat helicopter, the Jinri Zaobao newspaper reported.

Uber launched its first helicopter service last July when it partnered with Blade, an app providing helicopter rides to the Hamptons and Montauk from New York.

The service has expanded to Los Angeles, Melbourne in Australia, and Cape Town in South Africa.

While tight military control of mainland airspace has hampered the popularity of private jets among the country's elite, plans to open low-altitude airspace of under 1,000 metres has led to a flurry of interest in helicopter ownership.