Airbus' on-demand helicopter travel startup shuttered amid the pandemic. Take a look at the rise and fall of Voom.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter booked through Airbus’ Voom.
  • Airbus-backed helicopter startup Voom is ceasing operations due to the impact of COVID-19 on the business.
  • Voom was founded in 2016 from Airbus’ Silicon Valley incubator Acubed with flights launching in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2017, later expanding to Mexico City and San Francisco.
  • Intra-city helicopter flights were booked via the company’s mobile app or website with Voom flying over 15,000 passengers and collecting valuable data for Airbus on urban air mobility during its tenure.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Airbus’ mobile app-based helicopter ride-hailing subsidiary is no more.

After four years of operations, Voom closed its doors on March 23 with CEO Clement Monnet citing the COVID-19 virus as the primary cause of its demise. The Airbus-incubated and backed startup was one of the first forays into urban air mobility for the European aircraft manufacturer, which has a sizeable helicopter division.

“On March 23, we were forced to cease global operations due to the virus, and today, with our Airbus leadership, we have made the tough call that Voom will not resume its operations,” Monnet said in a blog post on Airbus’ website.

Voom successfully brought app-based ride-hailing to the skies by offering on-demand helicopter service in three major cities that could be booked from a mobile phone. Before its ultimate collapse, Voom had seen operations in the San Francisco, Mexico City, and São Paulo areas, acting as a booking platform that connected travellers with existing helicopter companies in each region.

Though the business will be no more, Monnet and Airbus say that they have proved urban air mobility to be viable and the latter will continue to invest in making robust intra-city networks viable using helicopters and future vertical take-off and land aircraft.

Take a look at the rise and fall of Voom.


Voom launched helicopter operations in São Paulo, Brazil in 2017.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom


The Airbus-backed company originated in the manufacturer’s Silicon Valley incubator, Acubed, with the idea of changing the way travellers booked helicopter flights and expanding the use of rotorcraft in urban air mobility.

Gustavo Graf Maldonado/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom


A mobile app or Voom’s website would connect a customer with a helicopter operator and booking would be handled through the app, not unlike Uber and Lyft.

Gustavo Graf Maldonado/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom


Mobile booking platforms have largely helped make helicopter travel more accessible and furthered the concept of urban air mobility.

Gustavo Graf Maldonado/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

In wealthy markets including New York City, app-based helicopter bookings started with companies like Blade and have since been expanded with Uber, though the latter is still in its infancy operating one route.

TOMAS BRAVO/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Read More: I took a $US120 Blade helicopter flight from midtown Manhattan to JFK Airport – here’s what it was like


All three companies – Voom, Blade, and Uber – have one thing in common: they don’t actually operate the helicopters that they sell seats on.

Gustavo Graf Maldonado/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Contracting with independent helicopter operators allows the platforms to save on the high operating costs that come with owning helicopters and simply pass along a price to the customer and facilitate a transaction.

Josue Gonzalez/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

After launching in São Paulo, Voom expanded to economic centres across the Americas with Mexico City and San Francisco added to the company’s scope of operations.

Gustavo Graf Maldonado/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom


The service proved popular with those looking to beat the traffic associated with major cities by simply flying above them and utilising existing heliport infrastructure.

TOMAS BRAVO/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Going beyond airport-to-downtown service, Voom had destination heliports throughout the regions it served to offer commuter or cross-town service within major metropolitan areas.

TOMAS BRAVO/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom


During its three-year run offering helicopter flights in three cities, Airbus touted that Voom had flown over 15,000 passengers…

Josue Gonzalez/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Airbus


a 45% repeat business rate…

Josue Gonzalez/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Airbus


And averages prices only double that of a ground-based car service while reducing travel times. In California, a 30-mile flight from Oakland to San Jose cost $US245 while San Francisco to Napa, around 40 miles, was $US425.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Airbus and Business Insider


Despite the COVID-19-induced collapse, both Voom and Airbus are claiming success.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

For Airbus, the Voom experiment gave insight into a burgeoning field of transportation that will rely on helicopters, including those produced by Airbus, until new vertical take-off and land vehicles can be produced.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Airbus and Voom


“This is just one chapter in urban air mobility, with so much more to come,” Monnet said in his goodbye blog post. “It is not a question of whether the UAM market will open up, but when.”

Josue Gonzalez/ReutersA helicopter in Mexico City booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom


The data acquired from Voom will only help advance the cause of urban air mobility and make it a viable mode of transportation once the technology catches up with the concept, according to Monnet.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Airbus and Voom


Most flyers in the company’s first year were also first-time helicopter flyers, which Monnet says proves that his firm was successful in “democratizing” helicopter travel.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Airbus and Voom


“Airbus continues to invest in the UAM arena and will be able to leverage the knowledge gained through Voom,” concluded Monnet.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/GettyA helicopter in São Paulo, Brazil booked through Airbus’ Voom.

Source: Voom

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