AP

Dubai again plans for flying taxi takeoff, this time by 2026

Feb 12, 2023, 11:56 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 6:57 am

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai again is planning for the takeoff of flying taxis in this futuristic city-state on the Arabian Peninsula, offering its firmest details yet Monday for a pledged launch by 2026.

Since 2017, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates has offered promises to launch flying taxis in the city already home to the world’s tallest building and other architectural wonders. A series of different types and companies have cycled through those promises as well, most timed to be included at Dubai’s annual World Government Summit, which saw this year’s edition begin Monday.

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced the relaunched flying taxi program on Twitter Sunday. This time, Dubai highlighted the six-rotor electric flying taxi made by Joby Aviation of Santa Cruz, California, in the promotional video.

The inclusion of Joby Aviation, rather than the Chinese-made EHang 184 and XPeng X2 or the German-made electric Volocopter all previously displayed in Dubai, wasn’t explained by Emirati officials. Joby aircraft featured at a stand at the World Government Summit on Monday.

“We’re excited about the opportunity and actively exploring the possibility,” said Oliver Walker-Jones, a spokesman for Joby Aviation.

Ahmed Bahrozyan, an official in the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority, similarly told the state-owned Dubai Eye radio station on Monday that “it’s early days” for the plan.

“We haven’t yet signed with any partners yet,” he said.

Another difference in this year’s promise on flying taxis is the release of specifics about the program. The city plans four “vertiports” by Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel, downtown Dubai, the manmade Palm Jumeirah archipelago and Dubai Marina. Those points will include two launching pads and four charging points for the flying taxis.

“We believe those are attractive areas with business hubs and tourist hubs that could generate considerable demand,” Bahrozyan said.

The pricing for the flying taxis “will be in the range of a limousine service in Dubai, maybe slightly higher,” Bahrozyan said. The RTA describes limo services rates as “at least 30% higher than taxi fares” in the city. Taxis have a minimum fare of around $3.25 and charge $0.50 a kilometer.

Another departure from earlier plans include the RTA planning to have piloted flying taxis at first, rather than autonomous ones as previously discussed. Dubai officials described the taxi as having a pilot with four seats for passengers on board, which match Joby’s electric flying taxi. However, Bahrozyan said tests would continue with autonomous flying taxis as well.

The Joby prototype can fly over 240 kilometers (150 miles) before needing a charge — something which would put Abu Dhabi and other areas of the country within range. It takes off and lands vertically, while its rotors tilt forward in flight. It has a maximum speed of 320 kph (200 mph).

Joby Avation Inc., which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was at $4.20 a share before trading Monday. Its major shareholders include Intel Corp., while Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines also has invested.

The video posted by Sheikh Mohammed’s Twitter account also included the logo of London-based Skyports Infrastructure, which also refers to its support projects as “vertiports.” The company already is testing its “vertiport” model outside of Paris and is working with Joby. Skyports did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Opening the skies to flying taxis would add to the “Blade Runner” skyline of Dubai, while also easing the real-world grind of daily traffic that’s only worsening as its population booms to over 3.5 million people.

Rush hour on Sheikh Zayed Road, a dozen-lane artery running down the length of the Dubai, alternates between dense gridlock and sports-car slalom. Over 1.8 million Dubai-registered vehicles ply its roads, not counting those crowding in from the United Arab Emirates’ six other sheikhdoms.

There’s also the desire to move away from carbon-belching gasoline and diesel vehicles as the UAE will host the upcoming United Nations COP28 climate talks later this year. That’s even as the Emirates hopes to expand its production of crude oil ahead of a promised “carbon-neutral” future by 2050. Meanwhile, Dubai hopes to have a quarter of all cars on its roads be driverless by 2030.

___

Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Several hundred students and pro-Palestinian supporters rally at the intersection of Grove and Coll...

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at New York University and Yale, and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public Monday.

2 days ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

2 days ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

2 days ago

Donald Trump appears in court for opening statements in his criminal trial for allegedly covering u...

Associated Press

Trump tried to ‘corrupt’ the 2016 election, prosecutor alleges as hush money trial gets underway

Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York over alleged hush money payments started with opening statements on Monday.

3 days ago

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

5 days ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Dubai again plans for flying taxi takeoff, this time by 2026