Uber offers free helicopter rides in city

Uber offers free helicopter rides in city

Model Ploi Horwang becomes the first UberCopter rider in Thailand. Bangkokians will have the chance to get a free tour in the helicopter on Sunday.
Model Ploi Horwang becomes the first UberCopter rider in Thailand. Bangkokians will have the chance to get a free tour in the helicopter on Sunday.

Uber Technologies Inc, the smartphone-based ride-sharing service company, has chosen Bangkok as the first city in Southeast Asia to introduce a one-day free trial for its helicopter service.

Thailand is among its three fastest-growing markets for its taxi app service in Southeast Asia.

The California-based company aims to expand into more innovative products.

Chan Park, Uber's regional general manager for Southeast Asia, said Bangkok is one of the worst cities in the world for traffic congestion.

"This provides high potential for alternative transport platforms," he said.

Uber will offer free helicopter rides on demand to Bangkok customers on Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

Anyone in the capital can open up the Uber app and request a helicopter ride with UberCopter.

If the request is accepted, the lucky rider and a friend will be picked up in a Mercedes-Benz car and be whisked away to board a helicopter that will give them an exclusive tour of Bangkok.

The number of Uber's mobile app downloads is expected to increase as a result of the helicopter campaign, said Mr Park.

"One of Uber's goals everywhere is changing the way our riders and driver partners connect to their city, and we are excited to be bringing UberCopter for the first time to Thailand. We hope it give the people of Bangkok a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the city from a totally new perspective," he said.

UberCopter, or UberChopper as it is known in many markets, launched as a trial service from New York to the Hamptons in 2013.

It has since been offered on a trial basis in other cities around the world including Bangalore, Cape Town, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai.

As of April, Uber vehicles had covered more than 4 million kilometres on trips in Bangkok, the equivalent of 122 times around the world. It says this number is increasing exponentially as more Bangkokians join the Uber community as riders and drivers.

"While this particular trial run of UberCopter is in a tour format, the whole idea is interesting for us to explore from the perspective of a potential product as well," said Waenyod Wongtrangan, general manager of Uber Thailand.

UberCopter could be the answer to some of Bangkok's traffic problems, he said.

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