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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Airbus-Uber Business Benefits Unclear, Beyond PR Splash

The business benefits of Airbus’ tie-up with transportation facilitator Uber Technologies are unclear beyond the public-relations attention it has generated for the companies. 
Airbus Group, the parent of the eponymous helicopter, airliner and military aircraft manufacturers, said on Jan. 17 that its new venture capital effort is collaborating with Uber on a pilot project to provide on-demand air transport. Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders told The Wall Street Journal that the partners would offer the service during the 10-day Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off this week in Park City, Utah.
Airbus said in a press release that the pilot project’s goal, which is to use H125 and H130 helicopters, is “proving out a new business model for helicopter operators to access a broader customer base.”
However, Airbus officials could not explain how this project differs from helicopter transport services Uber first offered in 2013 in New York and has since provided around the world, from Bangalore, India and Melbourne, Australia, to Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town. Also since 2013, it has offered helicopter services during May’s Cannes Film Festival in France; it has flown customers at other major arts and trade events as well. Most recently, Uber partnered with Maverick Helicopters to offer on-demand flights during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Set up in 2009, Uber pioneered a network based on a smart-phone application that connects individuals needing ground transport with third-party contract drivers. 
Photo courtesy of Uber Technologies
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