New York City-based Wheels Up launched a partnership with HeliFlite to give Wheels Up members use of that operator’s Bell 430s and Sikorsky S-76s for transfers between Manhattan and local airports such as Teterboro, White Plains and Farmingdale. Under the terms of the December 13 agreement with HeliFlite, Wheels Up members will be able to purchase time in its rotorcraft in blocks of 10 or 20 hours. HeliFlite, based at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, offers flights within a 250-mile radius of the center of Manhattan and also operates throughout Florida.
Aircraft charter and management firm Solairus Aviation is doubling the size of its San Francisco headquarters and has beefed up staffing at its East Coast offices. A 4,000-sq-ft expansion project at its California headquarters is already under way and is expected to be completed this summer. Meanwhile, Solairus hired three more charter sales people at its East Coast locations. Charter market veterans Brian Velelis and Tony Ciaravino will be based at its Manhattan regional sales office, while Lisa Denny will be based at its Washington, D.C.-area bureau.
Residents of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y., are flooding officials with noise complaints in the days since helicopter tour flights relocated to the South Street Seaport heliport after they were banned from the West Side Heliport effective April 1. South Street is owned by New York’s Economic Development Corporation.
While the legal wrangling continues, a new operator took over New York’s Downtown Manhattan Heliport last month. It is now run by FirstFlight, a subsidiary of Air Pegasus, the company that currently operates the West 30th Street Heliport. FirstFlight has a 10-year contract to run the Manhattan Heliport; losing bidder Linden Airport Management is challenging that agreement in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Elmira/Corning, N.Y.-based FirstFlight assumed operational control of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport on November 1. The heliport, located at Pier 6 on the East River in Lower Manhattan, is a primary source of helicopter service for corporate and tourism traffic, while also offering scheduled service to John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International Airports.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is looking to offload operation of the Wall Street heliport, one of three commercial heliports currently serving Manhattan. The Port Authority’s lease on the heliport ended in August and the New York City Economic Development Corp. is expected to announce the winner for a 10-year lease on the facility this month. Manhattan’s other two heliports are located on West 30th and East 34th Streets.
Closed by a ban on operations within three nautical miles of the World Trade Center site since September 11, Manhattan’s three public-use heliports were partially reopened on October 12, but only to Part 135 operations. The announcement came as good news for air-taxi operators but disappointed the large local population of Part 91 corporate operators.