A helicopter commuter line - the nation's first in more than two decades - debuted Monday, offering passengers the advantages of soaring over street gridlock and bypassing long lines at check-in and security counters.
The U.S. Helicopter Corp.'s service to John F. Kennedy International Airport is aimed at corporate executives and other business travelers who hate to waste up to two hours in limousines and taxis.
The flight between Wall Street and the American Airlines terminal at JFK takes eight minutes.
But the one-way cost - $139 now and $20 more after May 1 - does not guarantee VIP treatment by Transportation Security Administration screeners at the lower Manhattan heliport. Even the well-heeled may still have to remove their shoes.
The TSA will have eight screeners to handle passengers coming and going on US Helicopter's 26 trips per day, said Douglas Hofsass, the agency's chief at LaGuardia Airport, which will supply the personnel. Standard X-ray, metal detection and explosives detection devices will be used, he said.
Jerry Murphy, president of US Helicopter, said he was "thrilled to see the service take off. ... In a world where time is money, it saves commuters valuable time that can now be spent more productively."
The startup results from a partnership between US Helicopter and American Airlines that will allow the rotorcraft to operate from the airline's new terminal.
The US Helicopter fleet of Sikorsky S-76 helicopters can carry 12 passengers each but have been reconfigured for eight.
The U.S. has had no scheduled helicopter commuter airline since 1979, when New York Airways filed for bankruptcy. That pioneering company had operated for 25 years, using a helipad atop the 59-story Pan Am Building, now the Met Life Building.
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US Helicopter: http://www.flyush.com
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