Grab joins Uber in making plans to offer helicopter rides in congested cities

Ride operator Grab, Uber’s biggest threat in Southeast Asia, just ran a limited helicopter-on-demand trial in Indonesia over the weekend.

The service was free for the lucky few who got to try it, in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta.

This is the second time Grab’s trying out helicopters in the region, after a three-month trial in 2015 in the Philippines.

One of the Indonesian passengers over the weekend.

Image: grabid/instagram

But while novelty rides such as these have typically served as marketing stunts for both Grab and Uber, this is the first time Grab has said it’s seriously considering offering helicopter rides as a commercial service.

Grab’s Indonesia marketing director, Mediko Azwar, was quoted by AFP saying the past weekend’s trial was part of a feasibility study, and that the company was “exploring the possibility” of the service down the line.

A post shared by Grab Indonesia (@grabid) on

Uber’s also indicated it’s serious about helicopter rides, and even set a timeline to launch flying Ubers in Dallas by 2021.

It’s explored partnering up with different aviation firms, from Europe’s Airbus, to Bell Helicopters in the U.S., on offering rides.

Last October, Uber managed to nail down an actual cost in a white paper: rides should start at over $100 today, but eventually go down to $20.

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