US carrier Delta Air Lines has teamed with helicopter charter operator Blade to provide the only airline-supported rotorcraft transfer from New York JFK to downtown Manhattan.
The service – which was launched on 25 April – is designed to speed-up the often-lengthy arrivals and departures process at JFK by allowing customers to avoid New York's busiest airport completely. Blade founder and chief executive Rob Wiesenthal says the bespoke shuttle will also “reduce the time and friction" associated with travelling to and from Manhattan.
Passengers arriving at JFK are met on the jet-bridge by a member of Delta's "elite services team", who gather their checked luggage and bring them to a waiting car on the tarmac, Blade says. They are then transferred to a helicopter – typically a single-engined Airbus Helicopters H130 or Bell 407 or a twin-engined AgustaWestalnd AW109 – which will fly them to Manhattan in under 10min. The service is priced at $1,250 each way.
Delta passengers using Blade's services to connect with an outbound flight from JFK will go through an expedited security screening process before being escorted to their seat on the aircraft.
The carrier says the venture is part of its strategy to improve the experience for premium travellers at its JFK and LaGuardia bases.
Delta is no stranger to the business and general aviation sector. The carrier’s Delta Private Jets subsidiary has been providing ad hoc charter flights for more than 30 years with its fleet of 70 managed business jets.