Sao Paulo, Brazil, has some of the most congested traffic in the world, and there is no solution in sight. There are well over seven million vehicles per day attempting to drive within a limited area. This leaves commuters spending hours stuck in gridlock on a regular basis.
As a result, a custom aviation-infrastructure was pushed by the very wealthy for helicopter travel for excursions within Sao Paulo and between that city and Rio de Janeiro. For some of these riders, this type of transit is done on a regular basis with multiple commutes per day. This city has about 500 registered helicopters with roughly 700 flights conducted on any given date. This is accomplished by a dedicated helicopter air traffic control system. There are hundreds of helipads located on skyscraper rooftops as well as heliports. Also, Sao Paulo has three airports. For those who are not private aircraft owners, there are many air taxi companies.
In 2013, Forbes magazine ranked Sao Paulo sixth on the list of the “Top 10 Billionaire Cities.” It was noted that 26 billionaires made Sao Paulo their dominant residence. The numbers of this class have grown quite steadily since 2013. Users of this transportation include business elite professionals, those in the medical field such as obstetricians and the news media. Although there is a tourist component, flight costs have been prohibitively high.
This type of transport has been regarded as being available only to the very elite, that is until the emergence of the new Voom app. Voom operates as an on-demand booking utility that is operated from your cell phone. Instead of having to book a costly air charter, a ride can be summoned at the nearest helipad as determined by the app. The rider enters the addresses where the journey is to begin and end. This is done with boarding on a 30-minute maximum window of time for take-off. The app then provides embarking instructions and price. The app has the flexibility in providing information. For example, if the customer is near a helipad that is atop the roof of a hotel, possible guidance may be to contact a particular person with the hotel who will then provide further assistance to enable the journey.
While this mode of transportation is still costly, the value can be stretched by ride-sharing. This app has a provision for this. This would be worthwhile for tourist flights.
In terms of time versus the dollar, an example of the same distance (20 miles) is measured in a flight from a hotel in Sao Paulo to the International Airport that takes minutes versus a journey by a vehicle that could take up to an hour depending upon traffic conditions. The cost of the helicopter ride amounts to £150. The charge is variable in a vehicle because of the unpredictability of traffic. This price would range between £75 up to £150.
Voom is the brainchild of A3, the manufacturer of Airbus. It is this company’s aim to challenge and hopefully reconfigure Sao Paulo’s transportation industry to allow helicopter travel to be more available to greater sectors of the population, be more flexible in its utility and be more readily responsive in booking and flight take-off times than traditional charter flights. Its success is yet to be determined.
Above the rooftops of a megacity: The helicopteromania of São Paulo (by Verena Brähler and Solveig Flörke) https://lab.org.uk/sao-paulo-the-worlds-biggest-helicopter-fleet/
All You Need To Know About Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Largest City ( By Ricardo Geromel ) July 12, 2013, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ricardogeromel/2013/07/12/all-you-need-to-know-about-sao-paulo-brazils-largest-city/#2718a00b21ad
Forget Uber – New Voom App lets Commuters Hail a Helicopter (by Ed Wiseman) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/news/uber-style-helicopter-hailing-app-voom-touches-sao-paulo/
Traffic Jams Boost Helicopter Travel in Brazil (by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera) Monday, 25 April 2011 http://www.cnbc.com/id/42683749/
Transport in Sao Paulo – Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_S%C3%A3o_Paulo