Startup launches helicopter ride-sharing service

MANILA, Philippines – If you're tired of the endless traffic in the metro and willing to shell out thousands of pesos, then a new helicopter ride-sharing service may be for you.

On Wednesday, April 3, tech startup Ascent launched a service that offers ride-sharing in choppers, similar to carpooling. It will be run by pioneer operator INAEC Aviation Corporation.

Currently, Ascent offers bookings to and from the following areas:

The service, however, is not for the ordinary Filipino commuter.

A ride from Makati City to BGC, which takes only roughly 3 minutes via air, costs P6,900.

NAIA to Tagaytay costs P21,900 for a 20-minute flight or so, while NAIA to Clark is P25,900 for a 30-minute ride.

Passengers have to log on to Ascent's website. They may opt to book at their own time, or choose a set schedule by the firm.

BOOKING. There are set areas for the booking. Screenshot from Ascent website

BOOKING. There are set areas for the booking.

Screenshot from Ascent website

Ascent founder and chief executive officer Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff said the firm aims to provide another solution to the metro's worsening traffic situation.

"Despite being one of the fastest growing business hubs in Southeast Asia, Manila's traffic situation is also one of the most challenging in the region. We hope to provide a solution that is highly relevant to the current times' economic productivity pitfalls," said Sinai-Sinelnikoff.

Ascent uses 7-seater Bell 429 and 5-seater Airbus H125 aircraft to carry commuters.

RIDE-SHARING. This aircraft can carry 5 passengers. Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

RIDE-SHARING. This aircraft can carry 5 passengers.

Photo by Aika Rey/Rappler

Passengers may opt for more services such as add-on luggage, on-ground guest assistance, airport transfers via helicopter, shuttle services to dedicated heliports, and corporate packages.

Ascent was founded last year by Sinai-Sinelnikoff and chief commercial officer Darren Tng. It plans to expand routes to the Visayas and Mindanao later this year, and eventually around Southeast Asia.

In 2015, ride-hailing giants Uber and Grab Philippines launched their respective chopper services, UberChopper and GrabHeli. Uber has since sold its entire Southeast Asia business to Grab, while the GrabHeli option is no longer available in the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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