Ride-hailing firm Grab mulls Jakarta chopper service

Photo: Grab / Facebook
Photo: Grab / Facebook

Indonesian executives weary of Jakarta’s notorious traffic jams may in future be able to order a helicopter ride with their smartphones through a new service being considered by ride-hailing firm Grab.

The Southeast Asian company conducted a trial run of GrabHeli at the weekend, offering free rides to some customers over the megacity that is home to 10 million inhabitants and some of the world’s worst gridlock.

Grab already operates popular services in Indonesia, with its app allowing users to hail rides in private cars or on motorbike taxis. It is locked in fierce competition with local ride-hailing startup Go-Jek and US company Uber for market share.

Mediko Azwar, Grab Indonesia’s marketing director, told AFP the company was “exploring the possibility” of launching GrabHeli on a commercial basis and a feasibility study was being carried out.

“We see that the public need is there, there are executives who need to move from one point to another in a short period of time,” he added.

The plan is still in the early stages, and Azwar did not give details about potential pricing.

Jakarta’s monster traffic jams are a headache for company executives seeking to dash between meetings, and it is usual for appointments to be postponed or canceled entirely due to gridlock.

Grab is not the first company to experiment with a helicopter service in Jakarta — in 2015, Uber offered free rides to residents in its so-called UberChopper, but it has yet to roll out the service commercially.

And the city’s super-rich have turned to helicopters to help them get around the city on occasion in the past, sometimes hiring them at vast expense.

Grab operates in six countries — Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Singapore-headquartered firm’s core product platform includes private cars, motorbikes and taxi-hailing services which are rapidly gaining popularity in a region that is home to over 600 million people and a rising middle class.

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