|“Flying Over Traffic” – Short-hop Services Multiply|
Tired of bad traffic and have money to spare? A growing cadre of venture capital–backed startups are launching services to ferry people on short-distance trips by small planes and helicopters.
Companies including Blade, Skyryse and BlackBird believe there is a growing market for short hops by air in places like the Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York, so long as prices can be ratcheted down from the sky-high costs of traditional charter flights. Blade, backed by Airbus and valued at about $150 million, already runs helicopter flights in New York and Los Angeles, and plans to start flying in the Bay Area, it told a small group of customers this month.
The services are modeled after ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, with easy-to-use apps to book trips. The companies avoid owning aircraft outright, instead positioning themselves as service providers and ticket sellers to control costs. Uber itself is exploring ways to enter the market with self-flying, electric aircraft, though the technology is believed to be years off.
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