According to Avalon, one of the world’s largest aircraft owners, the rapid proliferation of flying taxi start-ups could soon put passenger planes on the parking lot. In some parts of the world, commercial air travel is already facing significant competition from high-speed trains. BUT IRISH AIRCRAFT LEASING COMPANY AVOLON PLANS TO INVEST AROUND $2 BILLION IN THE NEAR FUTURE in air transport in the near future, which should give it a competitive advantage over rail.
Avolon is one of the customers for EVTOL (vertical take-off and landing, electric) aircraft developed by Vertical Aerospace of the UK, which is also planning to go public. German aviation start-up Lilium announced in March that it intends to go public in the US through a similar process. THE DEALS REFLECT THE GROWING INTEREST IN BATTERY-POWERED AIRCRAFT THAT CAN TAKE OFF AND LAND VERTICALLY, and offer travellers a new way to beat the traffic when commuting between cities.
“The Vertical VA-X4 has a range of 120 miles, but this can be extended further,” said Domhnal Slattery, CEO of Avolon. Asked whether vehicles that can carry four passengers and a pilot could take business away from much larger commercial aircraft, Slattery said, “Sooner or later, of course. It is the inevitable future”.
These aircraft are a hundred times quieter than helicopters and emit no harmful emissions.”Slattery said Avalon has placed firm orders for 310 eVTOL aircraft worth $1.25 billion and 190 stock options worth $750 million. These aircraft will join an owned or managed fleet of 568 passenger aircraft, up to the 396-seat Boeing 777-300ER. Slattery said Avolon has not yet decided how it will deploy the air taxis, whose relatively short product development cycle represents a change for leasing companies accustomed to long-term aircraft investments.
“We could partner with airlines, set up our own units in different jurisdictions around the world, partner with helicopter operators. I think this will take many forms over time. But the technology is there and we will lead the commercialisation of it with zero emissions certification”.
The move comes at a time when AIRLINES ARE VYING FOR THE LEAD IN SETTING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA,as investors put pressure on them to help decarbonise aviation and improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores. According to Vertical Aerospace, eVTOL aircraft can help the industry meet its carbon reduction targets through zero emissions and electric power from renewable energy sources where possible.