Sheltair Aviation and Blade have announced a strategic alliance to expand air mobility options in the New York City metro area while laying the groundwork for future eVTOL operations.
Sheltair, which has 18 fixed base operators (FBOs) across four states, is the sole operator of helicopter landing sites at New York’s Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports. Blade, meanwhile, claims to be the largest arranger of helicopter flights in the U.S., with around 90 percent of the market share for by-the-seat helicopter travel in New York City.
According to Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal, the partnership will “enable new, cost-effective offerings that will be competitive with app-based ridesharing prices while delivering massive time savings and productivity gains to commuters.”
Blade currently operates from Sheltair’s JFK and LaGuardia locations, and will expand its footprint to Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, New York. Sheltair’s customers there will now have access to exclusive transport options from Blade.
“Pairing Farmingdale’s strategic location outside of New York City’s busiest airspace with Blade’s UAM [urban air mobility] service results in massive time savings for Manhattan’s general aviation fliers,” stated Todd Anderson, Sheltair’s senior vice president of real estate and development, in a press release. “Given the preferential helicopter transfer pricing now available to Sheltair customers, Farmingdale will be the clear airport of choice for travelers who value efficiency and can’t afford to experience air traffic delays.”
Blade and Sheltair will also work together to build the infrastructure necessary for the future arrival of eVTOL aircraft. As regulators prepare for the advent of these quieter, cleaner alternatives to helicopters, “we need to be ready on the ground as well to ensure we can meet the demands of the customer and the needs of Blade,” Anderson said.
The announcement from Blade and Sheltair echoes one made earlier in June by Uber and Signature Flight Support, which have also partnered on operations and infrastructure in support of urban air mobility, including Uber’s helicopter ridesharing service in New York City, Uber Copter. Although Signature operates a much larger FBO network — with around 200 locations across the globe — Wiesenthal emphasized New York’s status as “the largest urban air mobility market in the world” in touting the Sheltair alliance.
“The combination of Sheltair’s exclusive presence at both of New York’s commercial airports and Blade’s leading market share cannot be replicated by any other companies in existence today,” he said.