As the weeks go by, we are quickly approaching the Holiday Season and all the traditions associated with it across the globe. The end of the year brings joyous songs, delightful meals and, of course, an outrageous amount of travel. During the holidays, folks take to the streets and the sky as they endeavor to visit those close to their heart, no matter how far away they may live.
With air travel arrives an age-old question: How early should one get to the airport to make a flight? Some particularly “conservative” travelers aim to arrive three hours before their flight just to make sure they can navigate security and check-in lines. The most laissez-faire travelers may only leave themselves an hour or so from check-in to the gate but will surely be racing to catch the plane before it jets off without them.
By partnering with Joby, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft startup, Delta hopes to take some of the pressure off travelers through a potential “home-to-airport” service. In the future, Delta and Joby imagine a scenario in which a Delta customer, pressed for time, could use Joby’s aerial ridesharing service to travel directly from a local “vertiport” to the tarmac to board their flight. To start, the partners will focus on launching the service in New York and Los Angeles, where Delta has spent significant time and effort building regional hubs. In New York City, Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt said the service could cut travel time to just 10 minutes.
Delta is investing $60 million in the sustainable eVTOL service, giving the airline a 2 percent stake in the company and a seat on the board. The deal could expand the investment to $200 million upon meeting certain milestones. Delta and Joby will create a service for Delta customers through their mutually-exclusive partnership for five years in the US and UK after commercial launch with the ability to extend their relationship. This service will be different from Joby’s commercial service.
This continues a trend in the eVTOL market as these aircraft startups increasingly join other industry players on the road toward commercialization. Joby has received backing and investment from Uber, whose rideshare service will help allow customers to book Joby flights, and Toyota. Joby also partnered with REEF Technologies to use parking garages as potential sites for takeoff, although Joby said it would focus on existing helipads for the Delta service. Joby is currently working towards safety approval from the Federal Aviation Administration in hopes of launching services in 2024.
This partnership demonstrates the depth of creativity and innovation taking place in the transportation sector. We continue to see key players in the industry reimagine our current systems and look for ways to improve and expand the boundaries of what is possible. Subscribe to the Driverless Commute and check out our resources as we document the transportation revolution taking place in real time.