Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Company Launches Helicopter Taxi Service

Itar-TassA Heliexpress chopper taking off from Crocus Expo, in northwestern Moscow. A typical flight costs $2,000 per hour.
A helicopter taxi service hoping to help business travelers shuttle among Moscow's airports and to surrounding cities has begun introductory flights from the Crocus Expo Center to Vnukovo-3.

The company, Heliexpress, is a partnership between Russian Helicopter Systems, UTair and Eurocopter Vostok. Under the agreement, UTair is the operational partner, while Eurocopter Vostok provides technical support. Its first flight was Thursday.

Although precise flight times have not yet been announced, the estimated times of travel listed in a statement by Eurocopter Vostok are a heartening contrast to navigating the city's often clogged roadways.

Despite strict regulations limiting commercial and private flights in Moscow airspace, a helicopter trip from Vnukovo to Sheremetyevo airports skirting the city limits would take only 13 minutes. A flight from Vnukovo to Domodedovo would take 30 minutes.

Russian Helicopter Systems spokeswoman Zhanna Kiktenko said hiring a five-passenger helicopter would cost 52,000 rubles ($2,040) per hour, not including landing pad and airport fees.

On Friday, the taxi service was operating out of Crocus Expo and already had around 20 orders, mostly to cities in other regions, including Kazan, Tver and Saint Petersburg, Kiktenko said.

It remains to been seen, however, whether the young company will be able to survive exclusively on airport transfers and shuttle service to surrounding cities.

"A service like this would be more attractive to business people who are often late to meetings and flights due to Moscow's traffic," said Yelena Sakhnova, a transportation analyst at VTB.