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Uber's first helicopter rides set for New York

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New York (AFP)

Uber said Thursday it is readying its first helicopter rides, which will carry passengers between New York's JFK Airport and lower Manhattan.

The news of the Uber Air debut was first reported by the New York Times, and confirmed by Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who tweeted the article with the comment: "Point to point multimodal journey planning and booking = no stress transport to and from JFK."

The flights -- which last about eight minutes -- would begin July 9 with "dynamic pricing" expected to be around $200 to $225, with ground transportation included in the city and airport, Uber said.

The news confirms Uber's ambitions to move beyond city streets with its "aerial ridesharing" efforts coordinated through its Uber Elevate team.

"Uber Copter offers the first real demonstration of the Elevate experience," said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.

The New York service will be offered to members of Uber's loyalty programs.

The flights will help gather data for a wide rollout of Uber air transportation in the coming years, according to Allison.

While other helicopter services are available to New York airports, Uber is touting this as a "seamless" solution that includes all ground transportation and which can be booked on its smartphone app.

Uber has previously announced plans for shared air transportation by 2023 between suburbs and cities, and potentially within cities in the United States and other countries.

It has been working with partners to develop "flying cars" or small, electric aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability.

California-based Uber, the largest of the global ride-sharing firms, made a rocky stock market debut last month, raising $8 billion at a valuation of some $82 billion. It shares slumped in the first days of trade and have only recently bounced back to their offering level.

Uber said it lost $1 billion in the first three months of 2019 on revenue of $3.1 billion.

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