Virgin Atlantic Partners with ‘Flying Taxi’ Company

Virgin Atlantic plane

Vertical Aerospace is conducting test flights of its aircraft this year. One expert said the proposal was “less radical” than those of other air taxi companies, but argued there would be challenges ahead.

Virgin Atlantic is exploring whether it could launch a flying taxi service as part of a partnership with Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace. The airline suggests electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOL) could fly from towns to major airports. What is the idea?

Several companies have promoted the idea of autonomous “flying taxis” that could pick passengers up from rooftops in city centres and take them wherever they would like to go. Virgin Atlantic’s suggestion is slightly tamer.

It has proposed that a VTOL aircraft could pick people up from a city such as Cambridge and fly them to a major airport such as London Heathrow. Vertical Aerospace says its VA-X4 craft will be able to carry four passengers and a pilot up to 100 miles, as well as being emissions-free and quieter than a helicopter. In fact the company claims it will be “near silent” when cruising.

It has already partnered with American Airlines and Avalon, an aircraft-leasing company. Is it feasible? “There’s a lot of hype in this market,” Vertical Aerospace president Michael Cervenka told the BBC.

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