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Why Blade's CEO is ‘excited’ about competition from Uber Copter

Uber (UBER) is taking flight.

The ride-hailing giant will soon offer $200 helicopter rides from downtown Manhattan to JFK airport beginning July 9th, setting itself up as a prime competitor of Blade, a start-up previously described as the “Uber of the skies.”

But Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal doesn’t seem too worried about the extra baggage.

“There can’t be any greater validation of our strategy and our number 1 position in New York,” he told Yahoo Finance during a recent interview.

Blade allows users to create their own crowd-source flights or purchase seats on pre-existing flights between locations in and around major metropolitan areas including New York City, Southern California and the San Francisco Bay.

The company’s $195 service to NYC-area airports includes exclusive access to pre-flight lounges, specialized pick-ups from the tarmac, meet-and-greet perks and more.

Uber Copter Boarding (Courtesy: Uber)

“You’ve got to have that seamless connection,” Wiesenthal said. He noted how Uber won’t be able to offer the same amenities at the time of its July launch.

“This is all we do. We fly so we fly people. We don’t drive so we don’t drive people,” he said. “We’ve been a singular mission for years now.”

‘You can’t cut corners’ with air safety

Uber’s push to aviation comes at a crucial time for the company. The ride-sharing company recently confirmed that two members of its C-suite are departing. This news comes as its stock continues to struggle after debuting below its IPO price of $45 per share May 10.

Still, Uber’s ability to undercut markets is evident in its subsidiary growth as businesses like Uber Eats see increased momentum despite the company’s overall $1 billion net loss.

But the prospect of Uber offering unusually cheap helicopter flights doesn’t worry Wiesenthal.

“When it comes to aviation I’m not sure people want to get on a $35 helicopter,” Wiesenthal said.

“Our growth has been great but we put souls in the air every day. It’s a huge responsibility. You can’t cut corners, you’ve got to invest and you have to price it fairly.”

Wiesenthal added he thinks Blade is “at a very good place”— citing how the $195 price-point typically beats Uber SUV prices.

“I think [Uber] is good at what they do,” Wiesenthal concluded. “I’m excited about it. Anything that grows the market.”

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @alliecanal8193

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