Westfield partners with Uber on aerial rideshare

Uber will trial its upcoming Uber Air rideshare service in Melbourne, the first international city to be selected alongside Dallas and Los Angeles, with further Australian cities to follow.

The service will see test flights start from 2020, and expects commercial operations to begin as of 2023.

According to regional general manager for Uber Australia, New Zealand and North Asia Susan Anderson said Melbourne was selected due to the Australian Government’s forward-looking approach to ridesharing.

“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,” Anderson said.

“We will see other Australian cities following soon after.”

Additionally, as part of the ‘Uber Elevate’ program, Scentre Group will partner with Uber and explore how the property firm’s seven Victorian Westfield sites could play a role in Uber Air – through the potential hosting of skyports and charging stations.

“Over time, as Uber Elevate looks to expand its offering, we will work together to better understand Uber Air’s demand mapping and determine feasibility at our living centres in other Australian states,” Scentre Group chief strategy and business development officer Cynthia Whelan said.

“Over 65 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders live within 30 minutes of a Westfield living centre, and we are curious to understand the role our platform may be able to play in the delivery of Australia’s future mobility options and how this could integrate with current ground transport which already includes ridesharing.”

A render of an Uber Air Skyport. Source: Uber.

Global head of Uber Elevate Eric Allison said that while the 19 kilometre journey from Melbourne CBD to the airport could take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic, but with no reliance on roads an Uber Air flight could reduce travel time to “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,” Allison said.

“In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.”

Uber has also formed partnerships with Melbourne Airport, Telstra, and Macquarie as part of the Uber Elevate program.

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