Uber Air delays Melbourne expansion plan due to COVID-19

Uber Air has met with Australian-based partners to provide an update on local timelines amid the continuing global impact of COVID-19.

While Melbourne remains its first planned international expansion market beyond the US, Uber Air said there will not be any public demonstrations or test flights hosted in the Victorian capital this year.

“Just as we don’t build cars to run on the ridesharing app, the Uber Air network requires partners to lead the construction and certification of eVTOL vehicles for Uber Air operations,” the company said in a statement.

“There are eight partners working to create the types of quiet, electric vehicles that will make aerial ridesharing a success and we have been encouraged by the progress of their advance towards flight test programs prior to COVID-19.

“However, the restrictions on international travel, quarantines, guidance preventing mass public gatherings and a rolling wave of infections has impacted timelines.”

Melbourne was chosen as the third global pilot city for the Uber Air program last year, and test flights were predicted to start in 2020, with plans for commercial operations to commence from 2023.

Details around Uber Air’s planned growth into Melbourne were revealed earlier this year.

Uber Air said it remains focused on piloting the core technology in the US first, given that’s where most of the company’s vehicle partners are already developing their aircraft and where many plan to receive certification.

“All of the Uber vehicle partners are expected to progress initial vehicle certification in their home jurisdictions,” the company said.

“Accordingly, we anticipate public demonstrations will happen in North America first, but will not speculate when that might be as the ripple impact of COVID-19 has not yet been fully realised.

“Uber Air is continuing to progress a safe, reliable, clean, quiet, and affordable air mobility service and will remain working with local partners to bring this vision to life.”