It’s been previously reported that Tokyo hoped to be able to wow the world with a commercial flying taxi service at the 2020 Olympic Games to be held in the Japanese city. The city even established an official task force with the hope of having the necessary regulations in place on time to showcase the futuristic mode of transport.
It now looks as though next year might be ambitious for the technology that numerous start-ups are still working on perfecting. But perhaps not for 2024 when Paris will play host to the Games. The French capital’s airport authority, Aéroports de Paris (ADP), will start work on a brand new ‘Vertiport’ it hopes flying taxis will use to shuttle visitors into the city, bypassing land-bound traffic congestion.
€10 million is to be invested in building the Vertiport, a brand new airport specially designed for the vertical take-off and landing that flying taxis are being designed for. Work is planned to be completed within 18 months. The flying taxi model that will ferry visitors in and out of the city will be provided by Airbus and the Paris public transport authority, who have been working on the vehicles as part of a joint venture. Two models are likely to be in operation – a single-seater ‘Vahana’ and four-seater ‘CityAirbus’.
The plan is for the flying taxis to take off from the new Vertiport, which will be located alongside the Charles de Gaulle airport, every six minutes. That would mean the new route should play a significant role in helping reduce traffic levels in and out of the airport. And the flying taxis won’t be an elite mode of transport reserved for the wealthy. The fare that will be charged to passengers is being estimated at somewhere between €20 and €60. That would mean the thrill of using the new space age mode of transport is actually cheaper than taking a traditional taxi into town.
Other new vertiport sites are planned for northern Paris near the Stade de France, the national stadium, and the sites of the Olympic village and swimming pool for the 2024 games. Regulators plan to use existing helicopter corridors, which would avoid the need for complicated new regulations, planning and air control resources. However, the first vertiport located within the actual city of Paris is unlikely to be in a central area, meaning passengers using the service will still have to complete their journey either using a normal taxi or public transport.
With the new flying taxis still to pass safety tests there is no guarantee the plans do come to fruition in time for the Olympics but the likelihood is that the service will be in operation. There is also political will to make it happen with plans for a new high-speed rail route between Charles de Gaulle and the city centre having encountered problems and unlikely to be ready on time. President Macron also has ambitions to privatise the airport authority and doing so means it proving itself as a forward-thinking and potentially profitable business. With that in mind, another challenge that faces commercial flying taxi services is being able to prove themselves potentially profitable.