Air Transport World

New York Helicopter spins its web over Manhattan and the metro airports.

Garden City, N.Y. -- New York Helicopter Airline is catching more and more flyers in the web it has spun linking midtown Manhattan and John F. Kennedy Int'l, LaGuardia and Newark airports. The final numbers for 1983, President Reed Phillips estimates, will show between 150,000 and 160,000 passengers on the scheduled helicopter commuter carrier's metropolitan New York network. In 1982 the figure was 105,000. Phillips reckons the area's potential at 500,000 passengers a year.

With some 50 flights a day, the line whisks passengers over the tangled New York ground traffic in minutes. Anyone who has crawled in rush-hour traffic to or from the New York airports can appreciate the time savings. From the system's hub at the East 34th Street heliport on the East River to LaGuardia takes six minutes, to JFK 19 minutes, including a stop at LaGuardia (but only 10 minutes on the scheduled rush-hour nonstops), and to Newark 10 minutes.

All flights except the nonstops travel Newark-34th Street-LaGuardia-JFK and return. However, when there is a full Manhattan-JFK load in either direction, flights bypass LaGuardia and backup copters are pressed into service.

Getting to the 34th Street hub is still a little like driving through a section of a bombed-out city. The City of New York is rehabilitating that part of the waterfront, and the section under the East River Drive viaduct leading to the prefabricated heliport terminal is still a mess. However, the concrete of the helipad has already been strengthened, so it can take heavy, twin-engine copters when traffic demand makes this feasible. …

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