April 24, 2018 / 8:26 PM / a month ago

Voom expects Mexico City chopper taxi service app to take off

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Helicopter booking app Voom expects its new Mexico City operations to capitalize on some of the worst traffic in the world to eclipse the growth it has seen in Brazil, the company’s chief executive said.

A helicopter booked through the app Voom arrives for a client to a helipad in Mexico City, Mexico April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

Voom, a subsidiary of France’s Airbus, launched in March in the Mexican capital and after setting up last year in Sao Paulo, the second most populous city in the Americas behind the Mexican capital.

In one year, Voom has flown more than 4,000 people and the company expects to surpass that during their first year of operations in Mexico, Voom Chief Executive Uma Subramanian said in an interview with Reuters on Monday.

“There is demand for people who do not want to spend three or four hours in traffic,” said Uma Subramanian in an interview with Reuters.

There are no other helicopter ride-hailing apps in Mexico, though there are in Brazil.

The company is looking at entering Buenos Aires, Bogota, Guatemala City and populous Asian capitals next, Subramanian said.

A helicopter booked through the app Voom flights toward an helipad after departing from Mexico City's Benito Juarez international airport in Mexico City, Mexico April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

Traffic in Mexico City, which has more than 24 million people living in the capital and surrounding metropolitan area, rivals that Bangkok and Jakarta for some of the world’s worst.

The company’s online application allows customers to book flights in helicopters and it may associate with Spanish ride hailing company Cabify, as it has is Sao Paulo, to help customers complete trips on the ground, she said.

Helicopters can cross the 30 kilometers between the capital’s airport and the Interlomas neighborhood, one of the fastest growing urban centers, in 12 minutes compared with more than three hours in a car during peak hours, she said. Voom is currently offering three routes from the airport, but Subramanian said the company plans to increase its offerings.

The price for the shortest route, 2,500 Mexican pesos ($132), is steep, but the company is developing unmanned electric helicopters to allow for lower rates and higher profits, she said.

Slideshow (4 Images)

“In the future, with new types of electric vehicles, we could be part of the air transport system of Mexico City,” said Subramanian. “We hope to create a new mode of transportation in Mexico.”

Several European and U.S. cities have similar helicopter taxi services. But Mexico, Brazil and Guatemala have a comparative advantage since they are the countries with the highest number of helicopters per capita in the world.

Writing by Michael O'Boyle

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