AirX officially launches ‘Uber for helicopters’ service in Tokyo

Some AirX members: CEO Kiwamu Tezuka (second from left) and Director Taiki Tada (third from left)

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based AirX announced last week that it had officially launched a helicopter ridesharing service called CodeShare, enabling cheap use of helicopters through utilization of idle inventory at helicopter operations. The firm provides ridesharing from Tokyo Heliport in Shinkiba to Narita Airport, Hakone and Hatsushima, targeting users who do not wish to waste time on traffic congestion.

For conventional charter flights, it costs 880,000 yen (about $7,800) on average from Tokyo to Narita Airport (this service is also being provided by AirX as Airos), but CodeShare reduces this price to 59,800 yen (about $530) by utilization idle inventory and rideshares with other passengers. It charges 69,800 yen (about $620) per person to Hakone and Hatsushima.

Comparison of typical required time in using helicopters and automobiles
Image credit: AirX

This service was realized due to the cost structure of typical helicopter flight services. According to AirX, fixed costs account for 85% of the total operation costs in the helicopter management. In other words, whether a helicopter flies or not, huge costs mount constantly just as long as a helicopter operator owns it. Since charter flights are the mainstay of helicopter operations conventionally, operating companies have to set higher airfares in order to hedge risks due to uncertainty in terms of passenger numbers.

CodeShare matches helicopters of ideal size from among idle inventory of partnered helicopter operators according to the number of passengers, as based on reservation information. By minimizing risks related to costs, AirX realized this affordable flat-fee service. Reservations are accepted until three days before boarding (or 24 hours before at the shortest if without baggage). AirX also provides a transportation service from departure place to heliport and a baggage delivery service from departure place to final destination as a standard package without requiring additional fees (same-day delivery costs extra).

Image credit: AirX

AirX, currently consisting of eight members, was founded in February of 2015 by Kiwamu Tezuka (CEO) and Taiki Tada (Director), both from FreakOut. While Tezuka had engaged in research of formulation / algorithm design of transportation optimization at university and Tada led a busy life requiring frequent long-distance movement, they came to develop this service aimed at disrupting means of transportation.

AirX fundraised tens of hundreds of yen (hundreds of thousands of US dollars) from Anri and individual investors in its seed round in 2016. Speaking of a benchmark for the service, New York-based Blade has been providing a similar service in the US and had secured more than $6 million in total through its seed / series A round. In South America, Voom had a smooth launch based in Brazil’s Sao Paolo, a city known for heavy traffic.

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy