Sometimes being an airline means keeping up with the trends of other airlines. The 3 legacy carriers, Delta, American and United, have done it time and time again. Like when United, following Delta & America, dropped a bag fee last year.
In the past few years, both American and United have invested in electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft startups, commonly known as eVTOLs.
- American Airlines has invested $25 million in Vertical Aerospace as well as ordered 50 aircraft from the U.K.-based company.
- United Airlines has two eVTOL investments and aircraft orders. One for $15 million with Eve Air Mobility (a Brazilian subsidiary of Embraer) – they’ve ordered 200 of their aircraft. The other is for $10 million with Archer Aviation (headquartered in San Jose), along with an order for 100 Archer eVTOLs.
These zero-emission vehicles are being considered as delivery, medical assistance, recreation and military vehicles. But airlines, of course, are hoping to use them as air taxis between airports and nearby cities. Since they’re electric, they wouldn’t have an impact on the environment like many cars, buses and trains do. They’re also faster than any of those vehicles. And, of course, if you use an airline’s eVTOL to get to/from the city. you’re paying the airline for that privilege, instead of whichever car/bus/train company.
Delta, of course, has been watching this activity from the sidelines. And now, following the other airlines, they’re jumping into the game and are investing $60 million in startup Joby Aviation. CNBC reports that Delta will also have an exclusive five-year partnership with Joby operating eVTOLs as part of the Delta network.
“Delta always looks forward and embraces opportunities to lead the future, and we’ve found in Joby a partner that shares our pioneering spirit and commitment to delivering innovative, seamless experiences that are better for our customers, their journeys, and our world,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “This is a groundbreaking opportunity for Delta to deliver a time-saving, uniquely premium home-to-airport solution for customers in key markets we’ve been investing and innovating in for many years.”
The initial plan, which has no set starting date yet, is to offer eVTOL service to and from airports in New York City and Los Angeles, with hopes to eventually expand to other airports around the country, and then overseas.
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