Uber has set its sights on Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne for its initial launch of a shared air transportation scheduled to debut in 2023, with testing beginning next year.

It’s also developing Skyports for its air operations in these cities. The structures will have footprints as dense as an acre or two and will be able to handle up to 1,000 landings per hour.

Uber chose those cities, based on traffic congestion data, while also looking to establish geographic diversity in its testing, Allison says. The operations in Melbourne will allow it to work internationally and gain experience with an additional country’s regulatory agencies.

Allison also notes that those locations offer a more favorable regulatory environment than New York does. “We think it’s inevitable that we will bring Uber Air to New York,” he says. “We just don’t know exactly when.”

There’s currently an active protest movement against helicopters in New York, due to the noise and air pollution they generate. The grassroots organization Stop the Chop advocates against all nonessential flights, especially those used for tourism. “This will add a horrible new player into an already horrible, dangerous, unsafe, carbon-creating industry,” says the organization’s president, John Dellaportas, about Uber Copter.

Helicopters have transported travelers from Manhattan to regional airports for decades, but ride-sharing helicopter services such as Blade Urban Air Mobility allow customers to book flights that cost as little as $195 through an app.

Blade has more offerings than Uber Copter, with continuous service between LaGuardia and Manhattan’s Wall Street Heliport, as well as Newark and the East 34th Street Heliport. There are also a wider range of times available. Flights are every 20 minutes or so, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, Monday through Friday, and on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

Uber is using its Uber Copter service as more of a testing ground for future air travel innovations. The company has previously launched marketing stunts such as the UberChopper in 2016. Executives decline to say when Uber Copter services might end in New York.

Growing Pains
Further drawbacks to the Uber Copter service include that passengers can take only one personal item and one carry-on bag under 40 pounds on the chopper, so they can’t bring big suitcases they might need when traveling internationally out of JFK.

The ride also doesn’t save as much time as one might think. A trip from Houston Street to JFK on a Wednesday morning took 43 minutes, and the flight alone cost $364 for two people.