UberChopper takes to the skies in Kenya


Taxi-hailing app Uber launched flights today with UberChopper Kenya to transport business clients and the well-to-do across parts of Kenya without having to deal with local traffic.

The service in conjunction with Corporate Helicopters will be available in Mombasa and Nairobi and Uber gave some Kenyan customers a chance to try out UberChopper service today for free. Kenyans had to apply online for tickets to win a ride with a local celebrity and got to fly today across the Rift Valley and along the Mombasa coastline on 20-minute helicopter rides.

Celebrities to help kick off UberChopper
Uber recruited local celebrities to help kick off UberChopper Kenya with winners getting to ride with one local celebrities including Larry Madowo, Huddah Munroe, Eric Omondi, Chef Alim, DJ Lenium and Miss Global Kenya — Tima Keilah.

UberChopper has already launched in other cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Shanghai and Cape Town. It was first tested three years ago when Uber used helicopters to fly customers between New York and the string of Long Island seaside communities known as the Hamptons, where wealthy New Yorkers vacation.

The UberChopper promotion is aimed at providing a “wow factor” and create awareness among local consumers, which it has achieved. However once the hype from this campaign has died down, pricing will be critical to the success and long term take up of the service in Kenya outside of the elite.

Uber’s taxi service earlier this year had to reduce its charges by 35 percent in Nairobi as more app-driven cab companies launch and expand in Kenya.  This includes Little, the new taxi hailing app launched by Safaricom and Craft Silicon which can now be accessed through USSD for those who do not have smartphones.

Currently, the Little Cab app been downloaded more than 23,500 times on IOS, Windows and Android stores, with over 1,400 drivers signed up. Businesses have been offered a corporate option which they can use to offer transport services for their employees, with a dashboard which enables them track and manage employee rides.

So as the battle for taxi customers intensifies on the streets of Kenya, Uber takes to the open skies avoiding the legendary traffic jams below, in a move that shows Kenya’s rapid technology progression. How many “elite” will afford the ride on a regular basis and make the service sustainable, only time will tell.


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