NYC Is Set to Get a 12-Minute, $175 Helicopter Commute Option

For the well-heeled commuter traveling from Westchester or Greenwich to New York during the pandemic, cars, trains and subways all pose their own problems.

Enter the 12-minute helicopter ride.

Weekday helicopter service between Westchester County Airport and Manhattan is slated to arrive as early as March, according to Rob Wiesenthal, chief executive officer of Blade Urban Air Mobility. Trips of up to five passengers, with Covid-safety protocols, will cost $175 each way.

“We believe people will be willing to pay to go once a week by Blade, because we’re saving so much friction,” Wiesenthal said. “These people are working remotely four days a week, and it can feel comfortable to do this once a week.”

Blade is piloting the program after success in and out of the Hamptons last year. The company in December agreed to merge withExperience Investment Corp., a special purchase acquisition firm backed by private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, which in turn owns Ross Aviation. The helicopter commute will run from Ross’s terminal in Westchester, while Blade’s outpost there will continue to serve as a base for long-haul flights.

Ross and Blade are also working on a plan to introduce vertiports — vertical take-off and landing stations — and electric aircraft within four years.

Expanding access to safe and quick commutation could play a role in New York City’s recovery if people move further from the city and want to make the most of their in-person time in the office.

“The helicopter and vertical technology are going to surge, because of the savings in time,” said Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management. “It’s one of the best investments, because you can be twice as productive when you’re in your Manhattan high rise office: You can do far more in face to face, which makes the helicopter worth it.”

To be sure, the vast majority will still have to travel by train, subway or car.

“There’s a new hierarchy of how you commute,” Moss said. “The helicopter is superseding the limousine and the SUV for hedge-fund executives and high-tech leaders.”

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