July 21, 2019
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Uber Copter takes to the skies over New York

 Photo of a logo and app of Uber, the ridesharing giant that went airborne in New York on Tuesday with the low-key launch of Uber Copter, which offers anyone who can afford the $200 fare the opportunity to make the trip from Lower Manhattan to JFK International Airport in just eight minutes. EFE-EPA/Ritchie B. Tongo/File

Photo of a logo and app of Uber, the ridesharing giant that went airborne in New York on Tuesday with the low-key launch of Uber Copter, which offers anyone who can afford the $200 fare the opportunity to make the trip from Lower Manhattan to JFK International Airport in just eight minutes. EFE-EPA/Ritchie B. Tongo/File

By Alvaro Celorio.

New York, Jul 9 (efe-epa).- Ride-hailing giant Uber went airborne here Tuesday with the low-key launch of Uber Copter, which offers anyone who can afford the $200 fare the opportunity to make the trip from Lower Manhattan to JFK International Airport in just eight minutes.

From around the heliport where the helicopter tours of the Big Apple take off, and which also carry a $200 price-tag, photographers waited to take the picture of the day: Uber's black chopper landing to pick up its passengers.

Many were frustrated to learn, according sources in the company, that the copters flying to JFK will not be identified with the Uber logo.

The company famous for hiring vehicles with drivers launched Tuesday its air transport for passengers by offering its Platinum- or Diamond-level clients the chance to avoid long car rides to the airport, which can take as much as two hours.

The helicopter flights are operated for Uber by HeliFlite, a charter company based in neighboring New Jersey.

A flight can accommodate five passengers, though they are limited to two items of luggage each.

Uber is thus diversifying its transportation business in a face-off with Blade, a company that offers helicopter services connecting three locations in Manhattan with the three airports serving New York: JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International.

The launch of Uber Copter comes three years after the California-based firm announced a new division, Uber Elevate, whose mission was to provide aerial transportation using flying cars - which have yet to materialize.

"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," Uber Elevate director Eric Allison said of the Manhattan-JFK journey.

Uber Copter will offer service from Monday to Friday in the afternoon hours with the most traffic, and can be ordered on the same day or up to five days before, always through the same mobile phone app used to order a car.

News of the launch came in early June, though local authorities questioned whether it was a good idea a few days later after a helicopter slammed into a skyscraper a few meters (feet) from Times Square.

The pilot was killed in the crash, after getting lost in the dense fog covering the island, and the likes of Corey Johnson, speaker of the New York City Council, asked whether it was really necessary to fill the sky over the Big Apple with taxis. EFE-EPA alv/cd

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