Flying ride-share trial set to take off in Australia

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SYDNEY, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Flying taxis will be buzzing through the skies of Australia's Melbourne next year, with a new aerial ride-share trial announced by U.S. tech giant Uber.

As well as Australia, the U.S. cities of Los Angeles and Dallas will also take part in the Air Uber program, when test flights take off in 2020.

"We want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight," Eric Allison, the global head of Uber Elevate, said on Wednesday. "As major cities grow, the heavy reliance on private car ownership will not be sustainable."

"Uber Air holds enormous potential to help reduce road congestion. For example, the 19 km journey from the Central Business District 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."

Since Uber and other platforms were established Down Under in 2012, ride-sharing apps have now become an increasingly popular mode of transport for many Australians.

"Today, over 3.8 million Aussies regularly use Uber as a reliable way to get from A to B, and governments across the country have recognized the important role ride-sharing plays in the future of transport for our cities," said Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber in Australia, New Zealand and North Asia.

"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."

While Uber has enjoyed a great deal of success in Australia and is also currently finishing up another world first ride-share trial -- ScUber -- centered around submarine tourism in the Great Barrier Reef, the company has also come under fire on several fronts recently.

Accused of disrupting the traditional taxi industry, Uber is expected to face a class action lawsuit in the Victorian State Supreme Court, brought by over 6,000 drivers.

On top of this, last month Uber's own drivers staged large-scale demonstrations in Australia and all over the world, to protest their pay and conditions.

Despite these issues, however, Air Uber has announced investment partnerships with leading Australian companies Macquarie, Telstra and Scentre Group, Westfield and Melbourne Airport, and plan to commence commercial flying ride-share operations in 2023 if the Melbourne trial is a success. Enditem

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