AirAsia Aviation Group, the parent company of AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int'l), has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Avolon to purchase at least 100 VX4 eVTOL (electric take-off and landing) aircraft, making it the first Southeast Asian operator of the type.
In a joint statement released during the Singapore Air Show on February 16, AirAsia and Avolon announced the formation of a working group to pursue local certification, explore potential market prospects, and infrastructure requirements for Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
AirAsia's mobile app, the AirAsia Super App, would be used to support and develop Avolon's eVTOL ride-sharing platform.
Avolon will collaborate with AirAsia to commercialize zero-emissions eVTOL aircraft and establish an industry-leading UAM platform in Southeast Asia, through its investment and innovation subsidiary Avolon-e.
Capital A (previously AirAsia Group) CEO Tony Fernandes told Reuters that flights will begin in 2025, with authorities in Malaysia and Singapore expected to authorize operations far faster than in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
He stated that the air ridesharing services would be bookable through AirAsia's mobile app and supplied at a reasonable price, exactly like the budget carrier's normal flights.
Fernandes told reporters, "We don't want this to be an exclusive product." "We want this product to be accessible to everyone."
Avolon pre-ordered 500 VX4 eVTOL aircraft for USD2 billion from Vertical Aerospace in June 2021 to place with its worldwide airline customers. In Brazil, Avolon has placed 250 VX4 planes with GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (G3, Sao Paulo Congonhas) and Grupo Comporte, as well as up to 100 planes with JAL - Japan Airlines (JL, Tokyo Haneda).
Demand for eVTOLs is "exceptionally high," according to Avolon Chief Executive Officer Domhnal Slattery, who was just appointed chairman of Vertical.
He hinted that Avolon will make a "very big announcement" with a "large Southeast Asian operator" on Wednesday, which might help the leasing business sell out the 500 planes it bought last year.
Vertical Aerospace describes the VX4 as a piloted, four-passenger, zero-emissions electric aircraft capable of speeds up to 321 km/h with a range of 160 kilometers. When in flight, the VX4 is expected to be nearly silent.
American Airlines, Avolon, Virgin Atlantic, Iberojet (Spain), Bristow Group, and Japan's Marubeni Aerospace have all committed to pre-orders or pre-order options, resulting in a pre-order book totaling 1,350 aircraft valued at USD5.4 billion.
Startups all over the world are racing to perfect the technology underpinning eVTOLs, which have the potential to kickstart a new generation of low-emission aircraft while also providing carriers with a new revenue stream by allowing them to offer helicopter-like services at a reduced cost.
Joby Aviation Inc., a rival flying-taxi firm, said it will also collaborate with ANA Holdings Inc. to introduce aerial ridesharing to Japan.
Yes, flying taxis are getting closer to giving you rides!
Source: Reuters, Bloomberg, CH-Aviation