In its latest effort to promote and expand its business world wide, Uber is offering helicopter rides in Hong Kong from noon until 5:00 P.M. on August 8th for the “reasonable” fare of only $232. The 15-minute tour of Hong Kong Island is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Obviously, Uber cars will transport the travellers from their homes to the Peninsula Hotel, where the Helliservices Aviation helicopters will be waiting. Uber has partnered with both Helliserves and carmaker Infinity for the promotion.
The Hong Kong venture follows Uber’s helicopter promotion in mainland China, where customers could reserve a 30-minute flight for $490. With respect to the rest of the world, Uber offered its first helicopter service a year ago when it combined forces with Blade, an application providing helicopter transport from New York City to the Hamptons and Montauk. Uber also provides helicopter service in the South African city of Cape Town, the Australian city of Melbourne and Los Angeles.
In China, Uber is in a fierce battle with homegrown entrepreneur, Didi Kuaidi, to gain ride-hailing dominance. While Uber has a very strong presence in the country, Didi Kuaidi has expanded so much that Uber is currently in second place. China’s two top ride-hailing companies, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, merged in February, completing a $6 billion deal. Didi Kuaidi is valued at about $15 billion while Uber’s present value is about $50 billion.
Despite Uber’s higher valuation, Didi Kuaidi chief executive Cheng Wei told shareholders that the company is processing three million ride requests every day, or 80% of the market. Uber officials claim that it is handling greater than one million rides per day in China, or 50% of the market. Although the numbers do not exactly jive, it is clear that Didi Kuaidi is pointing out to Uber that the ride-hailing industry is bigger than expected and that Didi Kuaidi has all of the market not occupied by Uber.