by Carina Lopez
MEXICO CITY, April 19 (Xinhua) -- The rush hour in Mexico City can last up to 12 hours, so top executives and government officials with deep pockets and tight schedules have long taken to the skies to get from one part of the town to another.
A few weeks ago, helicopter-hailing service provider Voom entered the local market, offering "low cost" airlifts to practically anyone who is pressed for time.
One-way fare ranges from 2,500 pesos (about 135 U.S. dollars) to 4,000 pesos (about 217 U.S. dollars), depending on the distance and other services like luggage transportation.
"Voom is the first on-demand helicopter reservations platform in the world that is accessibly priced, up to 80 percent less than other traditional helicopter services," the company's founder and executive director Uma Subramanian told Xinhua.
The company, which has just celebrated its first year of operations in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, where it has served 3,000 passengers, launched out of Silicon Valley in 2016 as part of an Airbus innovation project. Earlier this year, it joined Airbus Helicopters as part of its expansion plan.
"We believe that with helicopters and existing technology, today we can offer an alternative to land transportation," said Subramanian.
"We're looking to offer urban air transportation so clients can get around quicker inside cities," she added.
The service is similar to land-based ride-hailing apps: one registers on the website and Voom connects him or her with authorized helicopter operators which maintain aircraft and heliports.
"Voom only works with the best operators in Mexico, like Pegaso and ASEA, which put five helicopters at the service of users," said Subramanian.
Users can reserve their rides up to a week ahead of time. Thursdays and Fridays are the most popular days to fly, according to the company.
The company plans to offer sightseeing flights as well, but for now it offers rides between different key points in the capital and the metropolitan area, such as the main international airport and a smaller international airport in Toluca, capital of the State of Mexico.
Alfredo Weitzner, who is constantly taking business trips, is one of Voom's frequent fliers.
"Whenever you fly you have to arrive hours earlier. With Voom, the benefit is that you're guaranteed to arrive on time for your flight," said Weitzner, an investment fund manager.
The service has helped him lower his levels of stress, he said, since he no longer worries about whether or not he will catch his flight.
According to experts, the next decade will witness the largest ever migration from rural areas to urban centers, meaning Mexico City and others like it will see worse traffic congestion.
Traffic jams cost local economies millions of dollars each year over lost productivity, as well as pollution and health issues.