Rushed New Yorkers know that it can take up to two hours to get to JFK or Newark airports by taxi during peak traffic times. Now, a new company called Gotham Air promises to transport them there in just six minutes -- without having to pay through the nose.
The service, which launched Tuesday, offers flights from three heliports in Manhattan to either JFK International Airport or Newark Liberty International Airport. Customers can book their seats at GothamAir.com or through the company’s mobile app, which will be available in February. The company is already accepting crowd-sourced flight reservations (a helicopter will fly only if at least four passengers have booked seats) and will offer a regular flight schedule by the spring.
But you don’t have to be ultra-rich to have access to the service. First-time flights are just $99, while subsequent trips will run between $199 and $219, depending on the departure time.
“Chopper rides shouldn’t be reserved for the super-elite,” Gotham Air CEO Tim Hayes told the New York Post. “We want to give as many people as possible the chance to experience a helicopter flight.”
Fliers, who can nosh on complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery during the flight, will arrive at the airport in style: The helicopters are outfitted with interiors that feature Hermès leather furnishings. Once they land at one of the airport's helipads, Gotham Air has cars waiting to whisk them to their terminals at no extra charge.
"We make getting to the airport fast, luxurious and exciting and have created an enjoyable experience that people can look forward to," Gotham Air President Colleen Cowan said in a statement. "Our fast and smooth Bell 407 choppers are the sports car of helicopters, with speeds of up to 160 mph with first-class seating allowing customers to take in breathtaking views of the city."
Gotham Air has partnered with Helicopter Flight Services, a leading helicopter tour company, to operate the rides.
And what if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your flight plans? The company assures customers that they will get them there quickly with a backup. “Gotham Air will pick up guests at their home or office in Manhattan and whisk them to the airport in a sleek Tesla S on rare occasions when the winds are too high or the cloud cover is too low,” the company said in a statement.
Helicopter service between Manhattan and New York City airports existed before, most recently from 2005 to 2009, when US Helicopter offered $159 rides to JFK and Newark from Downtown and Midtown Manhattan. The company closed down as it ran into financial trouble.
Earlier, New York Airways operated helicopter flights to and between the city's airports, but went bankrupt in 1979 as fuel prices soared and the U.S. economy entered a recession.