Want to es­cape Sao Paulo's traf­fic? Take a fly­ing taxi

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

While Uber has changed ground trans­port in many cities, Sao Paulo’s in­fer­nal traf­fic jams have sparked a new app that opens the sky to com­muters: Voom, a he­li­copter taxi ser­vice that charges ac­cord­ing to dis­tance and the pas­sen­ger’s weight.

It’s a god­send for those in a rush-but only if the weather per­mits. Gus­tavo Boyde, a Brazil­ian liv­ing in the United States who goes to Sao Paulo for busi­ness, is one of those who says the hops above the city are the only way to get around. “I’ve opted for he­li­copters,” he said, point­ing to the me­trop­o­lis sprawl­ing be­yond the hori­zon as he chop­pered from a chic cen­tral district to the air­port. Sao Paulo-South Amer­ica’s big­gest city, home to 12 mil­lion res­i­dents within its mu­nic­i­pal lim­its and mil­lions more in satel­lite towns-is reg­u­larly choked by gar­gan­tuan traf­fic jams. There are 5.9 mil­lion ve­hi­cles, or one for ev­ery two peo­ple. At peak hour, traf­fic can be backed up as much as 576 kilo­me­ters (358 miles).

Not so pricey

A new ven­ture launched in April by Europe’s Air­bus, Voom has taken a page out of Uber’s marketing man­ual to put clients above it all-at a com­pet­i­tive price. The app asks pas­sen­gers to en­ter their weight and that of any bag­gage, then im­me­di­ately sends the cal­cu­lated fare.

Boyde’s run, from the south­east­ern neigh­bor­hood of Itaim Bibi to the air­port some 30 kilo­me­ters (20 miles) away, takes nine min­utes and costs $150. Com­pare that with the mar­ket rates be­fore Voom be­came avail­able. In­di­vid­ual he­li­copter com­pa­nies wanted 10 times more-and trips needed to be booked at least two days in ad­vance. “Our goal is to make he­li­copter trans­port ac­ces­si­ble to more peo­ple, so that the he­li­copter is seen as an al­ter­na­tive,” said Voom’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Uma Subramanian. In Boyde’s case, tak­ing a he­li­copter through the app was a no-brainer. Us­ing a tra­di­tional taxi on the clogged roads would have cost him $50 and an hour and a half of frus­trat­ing stop-and-go.

“I chose Voom be­cause it fits within my travel bud­get, it’s eco­nom­i­cal and it’s prac­ti­cal,” Boyde said. “Those are two hours I can now use for work, which is handy given the tight sched­ule I have,” he said. Ac­cord­ing to Subramanian, sat­u­rated roads in Latin Amer­ica mean that “peo­ple lose up to 10 hours a week” stuck in traf­fic. — AFP


SAO PAULO: Brazil­ian busi­ness­man Gus­tavo Boyle dis­em­barks from the he­li­copter upon ar­riv­ing in Guarul­hos, some 20 km from Sao Paulo. Air­bus’ sub­sidiary Voom gives an al­ter­na­tive for those will­ing to avoid Sao Paulo’s heavy car traf­fic, of­fer­ing a he­li­copter ser­vice sim­i­lar to the car ser­vice of­fered by Uber.

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