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AirAsia plans 100-strong fleet of air taxis

The electric-powered craft are designed to carry a pilot and four passengers on a range of about 100 miles

AirAsia plans to lease up to 100 vertical take-off and landing aircraft to operate ultra short-haul flights in southeast Asia.

The VX4 eVOTL electric-powered craft are designed to carry a pilot and four passengers on a range of about 100 miles.

The revolutionary air taxis are to be supplied by leasing firm Avolon, which placed an order worth US$2 billion for 500 of the aircraft last summer.

Other airlines taking the eVOTL include Japan Airlines and Gol in South America.

Avolon will also partner with AirAsia to “commercialise” zero-emissions eVTOL aircraft and develop an urban air mobility platform in south-east Asia.

The two companies will form a working group to pursue local certification, research potential market opportunities and infrastructure requirements. The Malaysian low-cost carrier will also make use of its AirAsia mobile ‘super app’ to help support and build an eVTOL ride sharing platform with Avolon.

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Tony Fernandes, chief executive of Capital A (formerly AirAsia Group) said: “Innovation has always been in our DNA and using technology to look at more efficient and sustainable ways of doing things is a core focus. We are now much more than just an airline with more than 20 products and services on our super app leveraging off each other, including flights, hotels, food, retail, delivery, ride hailing and more.

“I am truly excited about this partnership between Avolon and AirAsia and the potential for zero-emissions ultra-short-haul air travel in south-east Asia. The digital era is now. In the VX4, we have identified what we believe will be the eVTOL aircraft of choice and we’re thrilled to be the launch airline for the aircraft in southeast Asia.

“We are also delighted to extend our long-standing relationship with Avolon, which has a proven track record of delivering for its customers and is in sync with our goal to become the leading one stop travel and delivery platform in Asean.”

Avolon chief executive Domhnal Slattery said: “Tony Fernandes is an aviation pioneer who has built AirAsia into one of the leading airlines in the world and has now also created southeast Asia’s fastest-growing super app anchored on travel.

“We are delighted to partner with AirAsia who share our vision of revolutionising the future of air travel. Together we will develop a ride sharing platform and bring the zero-emissions VX4 aircraft into service, positioning AirAsia as the operator of choice for sustainable air travel in the region.”

Stephen Fitzpatrick, chief executive of Vertical Aerospace, added: “We are delighted that AirAsia is the latest leading airline committing to lease our zero operating emissions VX4 aircraft. AirAsia provides many fantastic opportunities to travel around some of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world, and I am thrilled that we will be bringing zero emissions flight to people all across Asia.”

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