Sky taxi service booms over Sao PauloFebruary 12th, 2009 - 11:14 am ICT by IANS
Sao Paulo, Feb 12 (DPA) In the streets of Sao Paulo, traffic barely moves in rush hour. The endless stream of cars moves at a snail’s pace on 10-lane avenues. Some six million cars, buses, motorcycles and trucks daily plough through the city of 20 million people, and an estimated 800 new vehicles join the frenzy every day.
On bad days, officials estimate traffic jams reach lengths of more than 220 km. The few underground lines and the 15,000 buses are full. No wonder people with the necessary cash evade the streets by taking to the air.
Sao Paulo is a city with the most helicopter taxis in the world and the highest concentration of helipads.
In almost one-minute intervals, helicopters of all sizes - one, two and six-seaters take off and land at Campo de Marte in northern Sao Paulo. When Jorge Bitar Neto started his service with one helicopter 10 years ago, demand was relatively low.
“However, we grew with the economic boom in the last few years and extended our fleet to 10 jets and helicopters,” said Neto, owner of the company Helimarte Taxi Aero.
From 1999 to 2007 his air taxi took off 10,000 times, chauffeuring business people with more money than time to their appointments.
“Since then, we have nearly doubled the number to 20,000 flights.”
About 420 helicopters are registered in Sao Paulo, the economic heart of Brazil. They whirr diligently to the tops of skyscrapers to pick up or drop off customers. There are nearly 300 landing pads in the city and they appear on a separate city guide with a photo and coordinates.
Helimarte charges between 800 and 9,000 Brazilian real ($348 to $3,916) per hour depending on the helicopter’s furnishings and size and power of its engine. From an altitude of 250 metres and travelling at over 200 km per hour, passengers can thank their lucky stars that they are not caught up in the snarl down below.
On the ground, things are more leisurely. Short trips become one-and-a-half hour journeys, long enough for the driver and his passenger to form a friendship. But time is precious for people who are in a hurry. The average speed during main travel periods has dropped about 32 percent from 25 km per hour 10 years ago to 17 km per hour now, traffic expert Jaime Waisman of the university of Sao Paulo, said in Brazilian media.
Only daredevil motorcycle couriers can shave minutes off. At breakneck speed, they race through narrow gaps in the traffic, dodging rear-view mirrors and cars and changing lanes with breathtaking acrobatics. Almost every day, a motorcyclist dies on the streets of Sao Paulo.
But traffic is also getting heavy in the skies over Sao Paulo. The helicopters share the airspace with planes flying in and out of the city airport Congonhas at a rate of about one every three minutes. Helicopters and jet pilots use a different frequency to communicate.
“Sao Paulo is the only city in the world that has a special helicopter air traffic control centre to guide them,” said Neto. This has led to a new clientele that he hopes to attract with a romantic package. He plans to charge couples the equivalent of 640 euros for a helicopter ride, including champagne for the lovers, to a five-star hotel where they are picked up in the morning.
- General Motors imposes lockout at Brazil complex - Jul 25, 2012
- Man holds up Brazil vice president with toy gun - Jul 10, 2011
- Eight gunned down in Brazilian city - Jul 13, 2012
- Sao Paulo win thriller against Santos - Mar 19, 2012
- Seven hurt in soccer-related violence in Brazil - Mar 27, 2012
- 10 killed in Brazil accident - Jun 26, 2010
- Four die in Brazil plane crash - Feb 17, 2012
- Five cities hold 25 percent of Brazil's national wealth - Dec 15, 2011
- Delhi government slams critical report on bus corridor (Lead) - Jul 23, 2012
- Former Chelsea boss Villas-Boas in talks with Sao Paulo - Jun 09, 2012
- Sao Paulo secures lead of state championship - Mar 30, 2012
- 26 killed in Brazil Carnival road accident - Mar 06, 2011
- Valdivia enjoys playing again after kidnapping - Jul 03, 2012
- Ricky Martin expresses his admiration for Miss Universe - Aug 30, 2011
- Sao Paulo signs Assuncao from Atletico Madrid - Jul 22, 2012
Tags: air taxi, bitar, booms, campo de marte, economic boom, economic heart, endless stream, heart of brazil, helipads, lucky stars, million cars, minute intervals, paulo sao, rush hour, short trips, sky taxi, snarl, taxi service, traffic jams, underground lines