Can air taxis fly between Delhi and Gurgaon? – ET Auto


California-based Archer’s taxi-cum-plane is called e-VTOL, short for electrical vertical takeoff and landing.

Flyovers aren’t enough. So, could you just fly over jams?

What you’ve wished you could have done as you grind a way through crazy traffic is now a 2026 promise, which comes in the form of a collaboration between the parent company of India’s largest airline and an American firm – backed by aircraft giant Boeing – that makes flying five-seaters.

California-based Archer’s taxi-cum-plane is called e-VTOL, short for electrical vertical takeoff and landing.

InterGlobe Enterprises, which owns IndiGo, and Archer have announced plans to launch flying taxi services between Delhi and Gurgaon, Bengaluru city and its international airport, and Bandra and Colaba in Mumbai.

Sunrise for Midnight?

Initial plans suggest it’ll be expensive, but not that much, and worth it because of the time saved. (imagine getting to Gurgaon from Connaught Place in less than 10 minutes on a Monday morning).

Archer’s Indian-origin CCO Nikhil Goel describes the cost per passenger of using this service as likely to be just a “slight premium” over Uber. “Delhi-Gurgaon, for instance, costs INR 1,500-2,000 by Uber. An air taxi (per passenger) will cost up to 1.5 times of that or INR 2,000-3,000,” he says.

The fares for Uber, and any other aggregators for that matter, are dynamic and depend on demand. Gurgaon-Delhi could also be under INR 1,000 if one is not travelling during heavy rush.

The e-VTOL Interglobe has selected is Archer’s 12-rotor ‘Midnight’, which can seat a pilot and four passengers and fit in some luggage. The same model has been selected by American carrier United, one of the backers of Archer, which has firmed up two routes for launch next year – between its Newark hub and downtown Manhattan, and Chicago O’Hare and the windy city centre. The UAE plans to use it for travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

US approvals awaited

Federal Aviation Administration approval needed for operating such services in the US – like a green light from DGCA in India – is yet to come but Archer expects it this year. Once it begins flying in the US, India and the UAE will be the next destinations for e-VTOL, subject, of course, to govt approvals. Proving trial flights will be conducted here, with DGCA’s permission, before commercial launch.

Delhi-NCR, where Interglobe is headquartered (in Gurgaon), is likely to be the first place in India to get an air taxi service. Other than Mumbai and Bengaluru, the other cities on the proposed air taxi flight path are Hyderabad and Chennai.

Goel says, “We are delighted to work with Rahul (Bhatia, IndiGo founder and Interglobe head) and the entire Interglobe team to launch electric air taxis. Interglobe is one of the strongest aviation and hospitality leaders in the world, and we couldn’t be prouder of our partnership. We have made several trips to India meeting with key regulatory, govt, and industry leaders to help accelerate our progress in the region.”

The Interglobe-Archer deal

The IndiGo parent company has signed up for 200 Midnight e-VTOLs in a deal worth $1 billion. IndiGo and Archer intend to work together to build vertiports (including charging facilities) and train pilots. While inking this deal last Nov, Bhatia had said, “We are excited at this new opportunity of bringing an effective, futuristic and sustainable transport solution by introducing Archer’s electric aircraft to India.”

Archer will begin manufacturing Midnight at its Georgia factory this year. It is working with auto major Stellantis to make air taxis in other places too, including India. Archer’s major investors include United which, apart from an equity investment, has placed an order for 200 eVTOLs and has an option to order 100 more. While Boeing is helping with the technology, Stellantis (Amsterdam-based firm formed from a merger of Italian-American Fiat Chrysler and the French PSA Group) is helping bring in best practices for high-volume manufacturing, according to Goel.

  • Published On May 6, 2024 at 08:01 AM IST

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