Uber Air's $100 'flying taxi' rides between Melbourne CBD and airport

Uber Air's $100 'flying taxi' rides between Melbourne CBD and airport

Uber plans to launch an advanced 'flying taxi' service between Melbourne CDB and Melbourne Airport in 2020, whisking business travellers and other time-pressed souls between city rooftop and airport landing pad in 10 minutes for less than $100.

The trial of the Uber Air service will involve a radical new type of aircraft - a drone-like piloted, electric vertical take-off and landing passenger vehicle designed by Uber's manufacturing partners, including Boeing and Bell Helicopters.

Uber Air's drone-like 'flying taxi' uses vertical take-off and landing.

Each of the flying taxis will carry four passengers in a cabin behind the pilot.

Uber Air's shuttles will carry four passengers and their hand luggage.

There's a hand luggage allowance of 18 kilograms per passenger – larger checked bags will need to be sent ahead separately.

Each passenger can bring along 18kg of hand luggage for the ride.

The 19km journey from Melbourne's CBD to Tullamarine airport currently takes anywhere from 25 minutes to more than an hour in peak hour by car, but is expected to take just 10 minutes by air.

Uber expects the second-most popular route will be between Melbourne and Geelong, a 75km trip that takes over an hour by car but would be cut to less than 20 minutes by air.

Uber Air shuttles could soon be a familiar sight in the skies above Melbourne.

Melbourne will join Los Angeles and Dallas as pilot cities for the program, with test flights beginning in 2020 ahead of plans for a full commercial operation from 2023.

The lofty goal is to make these app-hailed airborne taxi services “as affordable as getting an UberX from any destination."

A concept for Uber's electric 'flying taxi' project, due to launch in Melbourne in 2020.

Uber has struck agreements with Macquarie Capital, Telstra, Westfield shopping centres owner Scentre Group, and Melbourne Airport to construct "city skyports" to host the Uber Air shuttles.

Uber Air' 'skyports' will likely spring up atop the car parks of Westfield shopping centres.

Uber has proposed using car park roofs – including those of shopping centres – and existing helipads to run the service. "The closest equivalent technology in use today is the helicopter," the company has previously observed. "But helicopters are too noisy, inefficient, polluting and expensive for mass-scale use."

Uber Air' 'skyports' will likely spring up atop the car parks of Westfield shopping centres.

Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy officer at Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield shopping centres, said the announcement "recognises the strategic locations of our Westfield centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure because of their close proximity to customers, communities and transport hubs”.

Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, said Melbourne was selected for its "unique demographic and geospatial factors", but "we will see other Australian cities following soon after."

"In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight."

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

11 comments

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    12 Jun, 2019 09:51 am

    Surely the picture should be a "pie in the sky". This is completely uncosted and suitable aircraft don't even currently exist. The Uber spokesperson on radio couldn't confirm anything and admitted Melbourne Airport hasn't been very involved to date.

    Current landing fee of a helicopter on airport grounds is $80 per person but said options exist to land at places like Gladstone Park!!

    Current helicopter service to airport precinct has failed because closest landing point is near Benz dealership and then a shuttle has to be arranged to terminal with a fare over $300.

    The whole story seems like media click-bait that the Herald-Sun has swallowed hook, line and sinker.
    Member who gave thanks

    Matt2

  • TheBigM

    TheBigM

    12 Jun, 2019 10:47 am

    "the company has previously observed. "But helicopters are too noisy, inefficient, polluting and expensive for mass-scale use.""


    Give me the chop of a helicopter over the high pitched whine of a drone any day. Not sure how they're "inefficient."

    As for polluting and expensive, we'll have to see, but the pollution hasn't stopped all manner of other vehicles running "everyday."

    No member give thanks

  • johnaboxall

    johnaboxall

    12 Jun, 2019 10:52 am

    Would be happy with a train.
    Member who gave thanks

    Aidan

  • jrfsp

    jrfsp

    12 Jun, 2019 01:14 pm

    Id imagine these drones will be flying before the train line is built...
    No member give thanks

  • Aidan

    Aidan

    12 Jun, 2019 02:08 pm

    Yeah that's so true. My pie in the sky is a train line to Melbourne airport.
    Convenient for both travelers and airport staff.

    Will attract more talent to work at the airport as currently for most it's not viable place to work when you consider parking costs and inconvenience.
    No member give thanks

  • steveb

    steveb

    12 Jun, 2019 02:21 pm

    I didn't realise it was April 1st today.
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    12 Jun, 2019 02:26 pm

    Gee only $100.00 in 2020, a taxi fare then for the same 19km trip will be about $200.00 including all tolls and fees in peak times.
    No member give thanks

  • Peter Gingell

    APACPete

    12 Jun, 2019 06:06 pm

    2020? Get serious. This is up there with below deck sleeping bunks. Come in spinner!
    No member give thanks

  • Dec1971

    declanr

    12 Jun, 2019 07:46 pm

    Can only think this is ore of an Uber marketing exercise than reality. It will happen but not so soon.
    No member give thanks

  • vbarberini

    vbarberini

    12 Jun, 2019 08:55 pm

    The Uber PR team swung into overdrive for this one! The proposed aircraft aren’t even under construction, let alone certified. Assuming they do get off the ground I can foresee nightmarish weight and balance issues as punters rock up with heaps of luggage too! Then comes the noise issue.... Did I mention this all sound like a PR stunt :)
    No member give thanks

  • Tim Johns

    Johns

    21 Jun, 2019 05:02 pm

    Did Elon Musk just buy Uber? Or become it's spokesman/evangelist. This is straight out of the Space Jesus playbook.
    No member give thanks

Guest

23 Jul, 2019 11:39 am

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