Pingshan opens urban helicopter commuter service

Writer: Han Ximin  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-03

Pingshan District now offers a new solution to urban travel, opening a helicopter commuter service Thursday that enables citizens to travel to Futian CBD and the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport within minutes.

A maiden-flight ceremony held at the Yanzi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center by the district government announced the inauguration of two routes, one linking the center with the Bao’an Helicopter Airport in the Shenzhen airport and the other with the Greater China International Trade Plaza in Futian CBD. A single trip to the airport takes 20 minutes and to Futian 13 minutes.

A helicopter takes off from the Yanzi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center in Pingshan District in its maiden flight to Futian CBD on Thursday. SD News

Low-altitude flights can greatly reduce traffic congestion and better serve the demand of entrepreneurs and high-end businesspeople needing faster and more convenient transportation, according to the operator, Shenzhen Eastern General Aviation Co. Ltd. (Heli-Eastern). A flight can accommodate six to 11 passengers.

At the ceremony, Yuan Huyong, vice head of Pingshan, said the service is not only a new growth engine for the district’s economic development, but also will give a boost to Shenzhen’s low-altitude economy. The district also plans to build a helipad at Pingshan People’s Hospital.

Low-altitude economy refers to a comprehensive economic form driven by low-altitude flight activities of various manned and unmanned aircrafts.

Shenzhen aims to turn itself into a low-carbon economy hub, Mayor Qin Weizhong said in a government work report delivered at the annual session of the city’s legislature last month.

The city unveiled an action plan for the high-quality development of low-altitude economy last year, after it was approved by China’s civil aviation administration to pilot unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aviation, according to Shenzhen’s transport bureau.

Official data showed Shenzhen’s UAV industry generated an annual output value of 70 billion yuan (US$10 billion) in 2022. The city is home to over 1,300 UAV manufacturers. Its industrial drones take up about 60% of the domestic market, while its UAV exports account for 90% of the country’s total.

Highly efficient and time-saving helicopter services have been called for among cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) by Shenzhen deputies at the annual session of Guangdong’s legislative body in 2019.

At the meeting reviewing Guangdong’s 14th Five-Year Plan, deputies from Shenzhen proposed establishing a GBA Low-Altitude Flight Center in the city.

According to the Shenzhen-based International Digital Economy Academy (IDEA) Research Institute, the demand for low-altitude air transportation in a region will surge when its GDP per capita reaches US$8,000. The GBA has many core cities whose GDP per capita surpass this number. In the next three to five years, it is expected that over 1,000 helicopters will be required to satisfy the demand in the GBA.

A helicopter commuter service between Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai was launched in 2015, the first of its kind on the Chinese mainland.

Last month, a 15-minute cross-border helicopter flight service between Shenzhen and Hong Kong resumed after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic.