Air taxis: licenses already next year? The dream very close


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Kot anyone noticed, the air taxi premiered at the world’s largest air show near Paris. At 1:13 p.m. on June 19, a model from the German manufacturer took off Volocopter on a remote fairground. The pilot did a few laps and it was all over after seven minutes.

In the second quarter of next year, Volocopter hopes to be licensed for commercial operation. An ideal time for air taxi services to the Olympic Games in France’s capital.

However, the air taxi will not be a great relief for road traffic. There is only room for one passenger on board the model.

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The air taxi industry is one of the future topics at the Air Show in Paris. The organizer has created a special exhibition space for the electric vehicles in a hall. There are half a dozen of the world’s roughly 100 air taxi projects in various stages of development.

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They all have the same big problem: They need millions more in development funds, are not yet making any sales and are dependent on the regulatory authorities and public acceptance. No one has a commercial license in Europe or the US yet.

Different air taxi concepts

In addition to an airworthy model from Volocopter, there is a powerful exhibition model from the US company Archer Aviation in the hall. The German developer Lilium is limited to a model of the future cabin and Airbus presents a mini sample model, garnished with promises via video screen.

There are different concepts for routes within metropolitan areas or over medium distances. Every improvement in the batteries increases the range. First of all, newcomers to the industry need risk-taking investors and good advertising.

Lilium boss Klaus Roewe therefore finds the premiere flights of Volocopter at the fair helpful. “It’s good for all of us because it shows that they’re flying,” he says in the WELT interview.

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But what is even more important is that money will be earned in the future. Roewe expresses doubts about the Volocopter concept because of the low seating capacity. In the Lilium models, on the other hand, up to six passengers plus the pilot could fly.

At their Paris premiere, the two German e-air taxi companies are copying the ritual of Airbus and Boeingwho use trade fairs to announce orders. Volocopter signed with the ADAC air rescue service buying two models. From the end of 2024, they are to fly emergency doctors to locations.

In addition, ADAC signed a declaration of intent for 150 more copies. It remains unclear which model it is exactly.

Lilium enters the Chinese market

Lilium, in turn, held out the prospect of a major market entry in China. Chinese helicopter service provider Heli-Eastern intends to buy 100 Lilium jets. This brings the total number of reservations to 745 models.

In addition, a Lilium network is to be set up in China with the Bao’an district of the Shenzhen metropolis. A milestone for Lilium boss Roewe, because more than 85 million people live in the Guangdong-Hong-Kong-Macau metropolitan area. “A later expansion to all of China and the Asia-Pacific region is planned,” it says officially.

The Lilum boss speaks of a greater openness in China when it comes to air taxis and drones than in Germany. “The mindset is different, they are ten years ahead of us,” he says. Drones are already delivering cargo in the region.

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World’s largest aviation show

Lilium has announced commercial operation for the end of 2025 and hopes to take over the approvals in China. “We want to fly in China in 2026,” says Roewe. He sees the Chinese technology group and Lilium major shareholder Tencent as a kind life insurance.

Tencent recently invested another $100 million and is planning another $75 million. Roewe is confident that the expected total of 250 million euros will come through.

The electric air taxi from the manufacturer Lilium

The electric air taxi from the manufacturer Lilium

Source: pa/dpa/Lilium/-

The Chinese are primarily interested in the business model and would not exert any influence, he claims. Roewe attributes the recent price increase from a low of 37 cents to around 1.20 dollars per share to the China capital injection.

“Some believed that we were running out of money, but that’s not the case.” Roewe also sees good chances that the Free State of Bavaria will participate in the Lilium capital endowment via the LfA development bank or the federal government via the KfW development bank. There are promising talks on this.

Financing of air taxi development

In fact, in the future market of air taxis, everything depends on who has secured financing in addition to the best technology and the best business model. Every month delay in approval costs millions.

Not only Lilium, but other start-ups have already had to correct overly ambitious schedules. An investor with a large wallet is helpful here. For example, the Italian-French car manufacturer and Opel parent company Stellantis joined Lilium’s competitor Archer in the spring.

The next Paris Air Show in two years will show what has become of the promises.

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