Think taxis in the sky! Uber has today announced Australia as the first international market for Uber Air, with Melbourne being selected as the third official pilot city. Melbourne will join Dallas and Los Angeles as pilot cities for the program, with test flights due to start from 2020 and plans for commercial operations to commence from 2023. Scentre Group have been selected to work with Uber Elevate as its preferred infrastructure partner to explore urban air mobility in Australia.
Congestion is a growing concern for cities around the world, and Australia is not immune – congestion currently costs Australia $16.5 billion annually and increasing to around $30 billion by 2030.
“Scentre Group is pleased to have been selected to work with Uber Elevate alongside other companies, government and regulatory agencies to explore future mobility options for Australians,” said Scentre Group’s Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, Cynthia Whelan.
“Today’s announcement recognises the strategic locations of our 41 Westfield living centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure because of their proximity and connectivity to customers, community and transport hubs.”
“Initially we’ll be exploring how our seven Westfield centres in Victoria could play a role in delivering an on-demand Urban Air Mobility service, potentially through the hosting of skyports and charging stations. Over time, as Uber Elevate looks to expand its offering, we will work together to better understand Uber Air’s demand mapping and determine feasibility at our living centres in other Australian states” said Whelan.
Seven of Scentre Group’s centres are located in Victoria: Westfield Geelong and six across suburban Melbourne – Westfield Doncaster, Westfield Plenty Valley, Westfield Southland, Westfield Airport West, Westfield Fountain Gate and Westfield Knox.
The initial focus of the Uber Elevate and Scentre Group MOU is on Melbourne. As Uber Elevate’s preferred infrastructure partner in Australia, there may be potential to explore opportunities with Westfield living centres across other Australian states in the future. This partnership represents an amazing opportunity to transport people to and from local shopping centres and opens up new opportunities in product delivery.
Taking Uber’s tech to the sky, Uber Air aims to open up urban air mobility, and help alleviate transport congestion on the ground. In the long term, the vision is for safe, quiet electric vehicles transporting tens of thousands of people across cities for the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance.
Susan Anderson, Regional General Manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia made the announcement at Uber’s global Elevate (Uber Air) Summit in Washington (June 11) and said: “Since we entered the market in 2012, Australians have embraced Uber wholeheartedly. Today, over 3.8 million Aussies regularly use Uber as a reliable way to get from A to B, and governments across the country have recognised the important role ridesharing plays in the future of transport for our cities.”
“The State Government of Victoria, Australia has been highly supportive, and we look forward to partnering with them to progress into this first international trial for Uber Air in Melbourne,” said Anderson.
Eric Allison, the global head of Uber Elevate, said: “As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private car ownership will not be sustainable. Uber Air holds enormous potential to help reduce road congestion. For example, the 19 kilometre journey from the CBD to Melbourne airport can take anywhere from 25 minutes to around an hour by car in peak hour but with Uber Air this will take around 10 minutes
“Uber’s technology is changing the way people move around their cities — from bikes to pooled rides, we are always looking for ways to reduce the need for private car ownership. In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight.” Alison added.
“We are delighted that Melbourne has been chosen as the first international trial city for Uber Air. Victoria is a dynamic, innovative tech state and an economy leading the Asia Pacific region in transformative technologies,” said the Hon Robin Scott, Assistant Treasurer, Government of Victoria, Australia who spoke at the Washington Summit.
Uber also announced partnerships with leading Australian companies Macquarie and Telstra as well as Scentre Group and Uber will work with key existing partners including Melbourne Airport who collectively will support the infrastructure and telecommunications needed to create a successful urban aviation network.
“As the gateway to Melbourne for tens of millions of travellers each year, we can see fantastic potential for Uber Air in the future. We look forward to continuing this exciting conversation, and working with government, regulators and our local communities to make this happen,” said Lorie Argus, Chief of Parking & Ground Access at Melbourne Airport.
“Our partnership with government and business is a significant part of the Uber story in Australia. We will continue to work with communities and governments to ensure that we create an urban aviation rideshare network that is safe, quiet, environmentally conscious and supports multi-modal transport options,” said Anderson.