Helicopter booking firm Voom ceases operations

Helicopter booking company Voom has discontinued all operations after struggling to find new investors.

The company ceased operations across all markets on March 27th, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But it was also struggling to find new funding after its primary investor Airbus revealed it would no longer be bankrolling the company from June 2020, a source told Helicopter Investor. The reason for Airbus’s decision remains unclear.

In an open letter, Voom CEO Clement Monet said mounting costs, resulting from its global scale of operations, was the impetus for the decision to close its doors.

‘Expensive Industry’

Monet wrote: “Scaling globally isn’t easy for any business. And we found this to be especially true in an expensive industry with a truly transformative model for both Airbus and the transportation market as a whole.

“Couple these truths with the recent Covid-19 pandemic, and we have been faced with some hard choices, as are so many businesses today. On March 23rd, we were forced to cease global operations due to the virus, and today, we have made the tough call that Voom will not resume its operations.”

Helicopter Investor also understands that Voom was trialling eVTOL flights using Airbus’s Vahana prototype. With the thin profit margins of operating city-wide helicopter flights, battery-powered eVTOLs would help cut the cost of operation.

‘Cost of supply’

A source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Helicopter Investor: “As of today [March 31st], the real challenge in aerial mobility is the cost of supply. The average hourly rate for an AS350-based flight in São Paulo is currently BRL 4,912 [about$ 950] and you can get down to BRL4,000 per hour on a long-term negotiated contact.

“That’s still around BRL 2,000 for half an hour flight between São Paulo and SBGR International Airport. At the price tag of BRL 450, you’d need to achieve 100% occupancy rates on each one-way flight to break-even. We were hoping that Airbus would ultimately break this pattern with their eVTOLs, but it seems that we still need a few more years before UAM [Urban Air Mobility] becomes a reality.”

The company was developed as part of Airbus’s A3 initiative – a Silicon Valley based umbrella company developing new technologies and services. After launching in 2016, Voom flew air taxi routes across Sao Paulo, Brazil and has since launched services in Mexico City and Los Angeles.

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