Chopper ride-sharing startup confident service will take off in Manila

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 17 2019 04:21 PM

Ascent Urban Air Mobility allows users to book a chopper ride. Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is a good pilot market and reference point for transport services, founders of helicopter ride-hailing firm Ascent Urban Air Mobility said Wednesday.

Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff and Darren Tng told ANC's Market Edge on Wednesday that they are confident there is strong demand for faster modes of transport given the booming economy and heavy traffic in Metro Manila.

Ascent allows people to book a helicopter seat through their website and fly between locations such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), central business districts in Makati, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig, and Quezon City, as well as regional locations in Clark and Tagaytay.

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"You have a great booming economy. You have a lovely traffic, to be honest, and connectivity issues around Metro Manila as well as wide park of helicopters infrastructure, heliports that's of low utilization," said Ascent CEO Sinelnikoff. 

A ride from the NAIA to BGC, a 10-minute flight, costs P8,900 per person. If going to Quezon City from the airport, a 15-minute chopper ride would cost P10,900.

At its current price point, a flight would need 2 to 4 passengers to break even, he said. But Ascent is not worried about fluctuating crude prices as its rates have already considered those swings. 

"Right now we have two kinds of flights. Strategic times were based on data analysis and customer feedback, we put out flight timings. The second way is through on demand flight times," said Ascent CCO Tng. 

The company plans to bring the service to the Visayas within the year and is also setting its sights on Thailand. 

Several helicopter ride-hailing firms have taken off in Asia amid worsening traffic in megacities that have seen rapid economic growth. 

Ride-hailing firms Grab and Uber both launched helicopter ride-sharing services in 2017 but soon stopped offering this.