Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Dubai Sets 2026 for Launch of Air Taxis

1 year ago

Dubai has yet again revealed its plans to connect the city through flying taxis and expects to launch aerial taxi operations by 2026.

In 2017, the city had test-flown a driverless vehicle called the Autonomous Air Taxi, that was touted to be the world’s first self-flying taxi service set to be introduced by Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

Announcing the plans for the aerial taxi on Sunday evening, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, tweeted, “We approved today the design of the new air taxi stations in Dubai, which will start operating within three years.”

The prototype models of aerial taxi vertiports have been developed by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

Vertiports encompass a range of facilities such as designated take-off and landing zones, a passenger waiting area, security protocols, and electric charging stations, said Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

“These stations seamlessly integrate with other modes of transportation,” Al Tayer said.

The aerial taxi vertiport will be located near Dubai International Airport, which when complete will make Dubai the first city in the world with a fully developed network of vertiports.

The terminal for aerial taxis will be connected to the Emirates Metro Station via an air-conditioned bridge, according to a release.

“The next step involves identifying exceptional investors who are experts in building the necessary infrastructure for the air mobility industry,” Al Tayer added.

With top speeds of 186 miles per hour and a maximum range of 150 miles, the aircraft will seat a pilot and four passengers.

The promotional video released by the Dubai government features an aircraft from air taxi startup Joby Aviation.

The initial network of vertiports will connect four main areas of Dubai — Downtown Dubai (Burj Khalifa area), Dubai Marina, Dubai International Airport and Palm Jumeirah.

While working on a comprehensive framework for the operation of such vehicles, Dubai Roads and Transport Authority will also outline the flight paths for the vehicles, identify take-off and landing sites, and specify necessary equipment for safe and efficient operations.

“The launch of the service hinges upon the preparedness of the companies and the legislative requirements for operating aerial taxis. This also involves a thorough examination of all operational details and ensuring that all safety and security measures are in place,” Al Tayer explained.

Airlines

Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Signs Agreement to Buy 100 Lilium Air Taxis

2 years ago

Saudi Arabia’s national flag carrier Saudia announced on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with German air taxi startup Lilium to purchase 100 jets.

With this purchase Saudia intends to launch new electric point-to-point connections as well as seamless feeder connections to Saudia’s hubs for business class guests, the airline said in a release.

Saudia also expects to support Lilium with the necessary regulatory approval processes in Saudi Arabia for certification of the Lilium jet.

With this Saudia will be the first airline in the Middle East and North Africa region to develop the all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) network in the region. The agreement will also help Lilium gain a foothold in the region.

The agreement with Lilium will contribute effectively to spurring sustainable tourism in Saudi using zero-emission aviation, said Ibrahim S Koshy, CEO of Saudia.

“Saudia intends to meet a growing demand for regional air mobility and offer guests a superior on-board experience. The potential for such an airborne transit network is limitless,” Koshy said.

While no timeline has been mentioned for the Saudia order, Lilium’s air taxi is scheduled to enter service in 2025, with production beginning as early as next year.

With orders worth approximately $2 billion, Lilium has already signed deals with Brazilian airline Azul, private jet company NetJets, as well as private jet company Globeair.