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When late for a Manhattan date, copter in

More busy execs now choose to skip over the gridlock to get into the city in a timely fashion.

March 15, 2005|James Gilden | Special to The Times

Your Cessna Citation X, the fastest business jet in the world, has landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, just outside New York City, and your Wall Street appointment is in half an hour. You've just flown 590 mph across the continent, but snarled Manhattan traffic separates you from your business meeting.

But you're not worried, because you reserved a helicopter to transfer you from the airport. You will be flying at more than 100 mph high above tunnel and bridge traffic. In about 10 minutes, you'll arrive at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, just blocks from Wall Street.

Busy executives increasingly are turning to helicopters to fly them quickly and efficiently to their destinations in Manhattan. The Downtown Manhattan Heliport, one of the three on Manhattan and the only one owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, logged more than 18,000 flights in 2003, an average of nearly 50 flights per day and a 50% increase from 2002. Though still a far cry from the peak year of 1999, when the heliport logged more than 29,500 flights, it does suggest that post-9/11 helicopter airport transit in Manhattan is staging a comeback, if not taking off.

"Business is up 20[%] to 25% in the last 12 months," said Patrick Day, director of charter marketing for Manhattan-based Liberty Helicopter.

Besides the Downtown Heliport, at Pier 6 and FDR Drive in lower Manhattan, there are two other heliports: VIP Heliport at West 30th Street and 12th Avenue, and the 34th Street Metroport at East 34th Street and FDR Drive.

Several helicopter companies in New York provide service, including Helicopter Flight Services,; Liberty Helicopters,

www.libertyheli; and New York Helicopter, www.newyorkhelicopter .com. Prices range from $850 to $900 per flight, and the choppers can carry as many as six or seven passengers, depending on the type of helicopter and the amount of luggage being carried. Round-the-clock daily service is available, and reservations can be made in advance, although Day said last-minute requests weren't a problem.

"We usually respond within 30 minutes and will have a helicopter ready," he said. Liberty operates 13 helicopters and has 38 pilots on staff.

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