Uber has chosen Melbourne as its first international pilot city for its Uber Air program with tests scheduled to start next year, followed by commercial flights from 2023.

Uber already has test sites in Los Angeles and Dallas for its air transport program, which the company hopes will open up air mobility and help alleviate transport congestion on the ground.

The ride-hailing giant said its vision is for quiet electric vehicles to transport people through the air at the same price as an UberX trip over the same distance.

For this project, the ride-hailing company will partner with Macquarie, Telstra and Scentre Group, owner and operator of Westfield in Australia and New Zealand.

It will continue to work with key existing partners including Melbourne Airport who collectively will support the infrastructure and telecommunications needed to create a successful urban aviation network.

The announcement was made at the Uber global elevate summit in Washington overnight.

Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber ANZ and North Asia spoke to attendees saying, “Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology.

“This, coupled with Melbourne’s unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the perfect third launch city for Uber Air. We will see other Australian cities following soon after.

“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.”

Eric Allison, the global head of Uber Elevate, said as major cities grow the dependence on motor vehicles is not sustainable.

Allison said, “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.”

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