Uber has announced Melbourne as the third city to pilot its Uber Air program.
Melbourne will join Dallas and Los Angeles in hosting test Uber Air flights from 2020, with plans for commercial operations to start from 2023, Uber said in a statement on Wednesday.
Regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia Susan Anderson said Australian governments have adopted a “forward-looking” approach to ridesharing and future transport technology, which, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, make it the perfect third launch city.
“We will see other Australian cities following soon after,” she said.
It’s expected that a 19km trip from the CBD to Melbourne Airport will take around 10 minutes with Uber Air, versus up to an hour by car.
“In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight,” Uber Elevate head Eric Allison added.
Uber Air services use drone like special aircraft that can take off and land vertically from designated hubs – called skyports – like shopping centre rooftops, and carry four passengers and a pilot.
In Melbourne, Uber is working with Westfield shopping centres owner Scentre Group, which has seven centres in the city, to help deliver its service.
“We are curious to understand the role our platform may be able to play in the delivery of Australia’s future mobility options and how this could integrate with current ground transport which already includes ridesharing,” Scentre chief strategy and business development officer Cynthia Whelan said.
Victorian Government Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott said the Uber Air trial plays up the state’s leadership in “transformative technologies”.
Other Australian companies involved in helping to provide the infrastructure needed for the pilot include Macquarie Capital and Telstra, as well as Melbourne Airport.
It’s expected a flight from Melbourne’s CBD to the airport cost as little as $86 — the same price as an Uber Black!