Air Freight News

Flying taxi hub startup nears $25 million in investor funds

Urban-Air Port, a U.K. startup that’s developing hubs for flying taxis, is closing in on 20 million pounds ($25 million) in funding after attracting two new backers.

Canadian aviation-services firm Dymond Group will invest in the infrastructure business while European real-estate fund M7 is also taking a stake. Minority shareholder Hyundai bought into the business earlier this year.

Urban-Air Port has doubled its Series A financing goal from an initial 10 million pounds amid burgeoning interest in the sector, founder and Executive Chairman Ricky Sandhu said in an interview. The fundraising has been running for about a year and is set to wind up in June.

Manufacturers of electric vertical takeoff and landing craft, or flying taxis, are looking to enter service in the next few years. While dozens of eVTOL designs from companies including Vertical Aerospace, Volocopter GmbH and Joby Aviation are competing to be first to market, there are few infrastructure startups, with Urban-Air Port and U.K. rival Skyports the two main players.

Sandhu spoke after Urban-Air Port opened a facility in the center of Coventry, England, for three weeks of demonstration flights with a range of unmanned drones. The venue features a circular terminal with a check-in area, cafe and retail space, surrounding a pad which rises to roof height before takeoff.

Urban-Air Port aims to build 200 such hubs over the next five years and is currently engaged in 65 active programs around the world, Sandhu said. The firm has letters of intent worth 50 million pounds plus 15 million pounds of pre-orders for a total of 13 flying-taxi bases, he said.

Ottawa-based Dymond’s founder, Carl Dymond, will join the Urban-Air Port board, and the company will order two flying-taxi hubs for deployment in Canada, one on the Atlantic seaboard and the other in the west.

The investment from directors of M7 is focused on the potential for eVTOL craft and drones to transform supply chains and the logistics sector, the company said. M7 highlighted the potential of a smaller hub that Urban-Air Port is working on, known as a the DocksBox, which is designed to integrate with the existing loading docks of distribution centers.

Sandhu said the modular approach is necessary because studies have shown that more obvious solutions, like drones landing on warehouse roofs or on the tarmac outside, would be dangerous or impractical.

Another partner of Urban-Air Port, Munich Airport’s international business arm, is interested in bringing the demonstration hub to Germany, perhaps later this year, Ivonne Kuger, vice president for corporate development, said at the Coventry launch.

Bloomberg
Bloomberg

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© Bloomberg
The author’s opinion are not necessarily the opinions of the American Journal of Transportation (AJOT).

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