Starting this month, residents of the Pearl River Delta will have a new transportation option for their morning commute: the helicopter.
Courtesy of Shenzhen-based private airline company Astro Air, passengers can travel between helicopter landing pads located at Excellence Century Center Tower 1 in Shenzhen and Zhujiang New Town in Guangzhou, thereby cutting an hour off of travel time. The company plans to add additional helicopter landing pads throughout the PRD.
While the company has yet to release pricing for the trip, they have said the fare will be “reasonable”.
For those who aren’t looking to get from A to B, Astro Air also offers scenic helicopter tours. The airline company has partnered with Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) East theme park to provide sightseeing tours out of Yantian District.
While Astro Air is the first company to offer routes between Shenzhen and Guangzhou, helicopter services for commuters has been growing in popularity throughout China over the past year.
Last September, Nanfang Airlines Corporation offered helicopter service between Guangzhou and Macau in 45 minutes. This past May, the Didi Kuaidi car-sharing service partnered with a helicopter company to provide service between Beijing and Tianjin for RMB 3,500 ($560), completing the 120 kilometer journey in just 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Uber car-sharing service has launched helicopter services in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Hong Kong. Customers can book a 30 minute flight at a cost of RMB 2,999 ($483).
Despite 299 general aviation companies throughout China, control continues to be tightly regulated and controlled by the military. However, as a result of the State Council and Central Military Commission’s 2011 decision to gradually loosen restrictions on low-altitude airspace under 1,000 metres, new short-haul routes have gradually emerged.