Joby Aviation has delayed the introduction of its new electric air taxi by about a year to 2025, as the certification of the new aircraft proceeds slower than hoped. The developer disclosed the delay in a letter to shareholders on Wednesday.
The delay has immediate implications for Delta Air Lines, which in October unveiled plans to launch a premium air taxi product with Joby in 2024. Delta will sell and market the flights on what are officially known as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, while Joby manages operations and branding under the exclusive partnership. The airline will invest up to $200 million in the air taxi company and be its sole partner on the new premium service for at least five years after commercial launch.
“The new timeline helps clear the air with some cautious optimism that the FAA expects to have necessary [regulations] in place by” the end of 2024, Raymond James analyst Savanthi Syth wrote Thursday on the delay.
Joby, and other companies in the urban air mobility sector, claim that electric air taxi technology will revolutionize how people get around cities. In their partnerships with airlines, they tout fast, carbon-free rides on the battery-powered aircraft from downtowns or regional centers to airports. All of the in-development eVTOLS seat only four passengers and are able to fly no more than about 150 miles on a single charge.
JetBlue Ventures is also an investor in Joby, though its parent JetBlue Airways has yet to specify an order or operational plan for the air taxis in its network. Joby also counts Japan’s All Nippon Airways among its customers.