Helicopter ‘ride-sharing’ is back, this time as a real service in the Philippines

Time-sensitive passengers now have a faster alternative to traditional ride-sharing options

Helicopter ‘ride-sharing’ platform Ascent Urban launched in the Philippines on Wednesday in a bid to address traffic congestion in the country through air mobility, reported Bloomberg.

The company, headquartered in Singapore, plans to expand to Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia if this venture in the Philippines succeeds.

“Ride-sharing” is a term that alludes to on-demand transportation platforms like Uber and Grab but in fact, Ascent Urban’s model is more akin to booking a seat on a plane or bus.

Passengers looking to escape the gridlock during rush hours can book a seat through the company’s website starting from next week on fixed routes. According to Ascent’s website, the helicopters fly to the Makati and Taguig City central business districts, as well as airports in Manila and Clark north of the capital.

Traffic congestion is a common problem in megacities like Manila. In particular, the gridlock in the Philippines is causing the country to lose about P 3.5 billion (approximately USD 67 million) every year. As such, there may be a market for helicopter rides – although only few will be able to afford the still hefty price tag, with a three-minute ride costing more than USD 130, according to Bloomberg.

Democratizing access to helicopter seats does seem to appeal to people’s imaginations. Grab and Uber both tested chopper services when they launched in Southeast Asia, but more as a one-off marketing event. Whitesky Aviation is another already operating helicopter ‘ride-sharing’ platform in the region.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad