The Washington Post

United Airlines invests in electric air taxis


United Airlines thinks that in a few years, plenty of big-city customers will pay $100 or more for a one-way ride to the airport in a four-seat, electric-powered air taxi.

The Chicago-based airline said Thursday that it invested

$15 million in a start-up manufactur­er, and signed a “conditiona­l” agreement to buy 200 of the tiny aircraft with options for 200 more.

United said it expects to receive the first taxis — which will take off and land vertically, like helicopter­s — from Eve Air Mobility as soon as 2026.

It’s hard to judge United’s commitment to the deal, since it wouldn’t provide terms for the order. A spokesman said the conditions are standard when buying an aircraft that hasn’t been certified by regulators, and they cover “a number of United’s business objectives.”

The stake in Eve amounts to less than 5 percent of United’s second-quarter profit.

But the deal fits United’s pattern of announcing interest in start-ups that are trying to build and win regulatory approval for air taxis, like Archer, and supersonic planes, like Boom.

The Eve aircraft is envisioned to have a range of 40 to 60 miles. Future designs might be slightly bigger than the currently planned four-seater, but they would not replace any planes that United flies from one airport to another, so they won’t reduce carbon emissions produced by the airline’s regular fleet.

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