American Airlines has an easy, if expensive, solution for New York City travelers who want to bypass airport traffic: soar over the cars on a helicopter that lands at the airline's terminal.
The service, which American is offering through an agreement with US Helicopter, is the Fort Worth-based airline's latest effort to hold onto its premium business customers, who have been targeted by rival United Airlines.
"This is really aimed at our high-end customers who are among the largest corporations in New York," American spokesman Ned Raynolds said.
"These are people who consider their time very valuable."
The helicopter flights will be offered starting March 13 between John F. Kennedy Airport and a Wall Street heliport and will take about eight minutes.
They will initially cost $139 each way. A taxi ride between the airport and Manhattan takes 45 minutes or longer, depending on traffic, and typically costs about $30.
Travelers who take the helicopter to the airport will save additional time by going through a security checkpoint and checking their bags at the heliport, bypassing lines at the airport.
"On Wall Street you've got these hyper deal- makers who see every minute lost as a lost opportunity," said Donald McSullivan, US Helicopter's senior vice president and marketing chief. "This gives that time back to them."
The deal won't be a direct moneymaker for American, as the helicopter company will keep the revenue from the ticket sales. But it will allow American to provide a service that competitors can't match, at least for now. No other company provides helicopter service at New York's airports.
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