Melbourne chosen as Uber Air’s first international pilot city

Ridesharing giant Uber has announced Australia as the first international market for Uber Air, with Melbourne being selected as the third official pilot city.

Melbourne will join Dallas and Los Angeles as pilot cities for the program, with test flights due to start from 2020 and plans for commercial operations to commence from 2023. It was previously reported that Sydney was also in the running to become an Uber Air pilot city.

Taking Uber’s tech to the sky, Uber Air aims to open up urban air mobility, and help alleviate transport congestion on the ground.

In the long term, the vision is for safe, quiet electric vehicles transporting tens of thousands of people across cities for the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance.

Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia, made the announcement at Uber’s global Elevate (Uber Air) Summit in Washington yesterday.

“Since we entered the market in 2012, Australians have embraced Uber wholeheartedly,” he said.

“Today, over 3.8 million Aussies regularly use Uber as a reliable way to get from A to B, and governments across the country have recognised the important role ridesharing plays in the future of transport for our cities.”

“Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology.

“This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after.”

“The state government of Victoria, Australia has been highly supportive, and we look forward to partnering with them to progress into this first international trial for Uber Air in Melbourne.”

Congestion is a growing concern for cities around the world, and Australia is not immune – congestion currently costs Australia $16.5 billion annually and increasing to around $30 billion by 2030.

Eric Allison, global head of Uber Elevate, said: “As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private car ownership will not be sustainable. Uber Air holds enormous potential to help reduce road congestion.

“For example, the 19-kilometre journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by car in peak hour, but with Uber Air, this will take around 10 minutes.

“Uber’s technology is changing the way people move around their cities – from bikes to pooled rides, we are always looking for ways to reduce the need for private car ownership. In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.”

Victoria’s assistant treasurer, Robin Scott, said: “We are delighted that Melbourne has been chosen as the first international trial city for Uber Air.

“Victoria is a dynamic, innovative tech state and an economy leading the Asia-Pacific region in transformative technologies.

Uber has also announced partnerships with Macquarie, Telstra and Scentre Group (owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand) and will work with key existing partners including Melbourne Airport, who will collectively support the infrastructure and telecommunications needed to create its urban aviation network.