Aerospace & Defense

Italian, French airports create company for flying taxi infrastructure

2 minute read

A prototype of an electrical air-taxi drone by German start-up Volocopter that takes off and lands vertically performs a non-passenger flight over Le Bourget airport, near Paris, France, June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

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ROME, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Airports in the Italian cities of Rome, Venice and Bologna and on the French Riviera have teamed up to create a company to build and manage infrastructures for flying taxis, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

The infrastructure, also known as vertiports, will be used to deploy battery-powered aircraft that can take off and land vertically, offering a new way for travellers to beat traffic and hop between cities.

Atlantia's (ATL.MI) Aeroporti di Roma, Aeroporto di Venezia, Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna (ADB.MI) and France's Aeroports de la Cote d’Azur said their company, called Urban Blue, will be open to other industrial, technology and financial partners for the gradual expansion of the project in Italy, France and elsewhere.

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Urban Blue will also partner with German flying taxi startup Volocopter and will be supported by investment fund EDF Invest, a shareholder of Aeroports de la Cote d’Azur, they said.

The start of the vertiport operations in Rome, Venice and the French coastal city of Nice is planned by 2024, they said, but gave no financial details of the project.

Marco Troncone, the CEO of Aeroporti di Roma, a unit of infrastructure group Atlantia, said Urban Blue was working with a "challenging but possible timeline, to allow Rome to be among the first cities in Europe to activate this type of connection".

On Wednesday, Volocopter will present one of its battery-powered passenger aircraft at Rome's Fiumicino airport.

The Italian capital is seen as the third most suitable city for the development of what is known as urban air mobility (UAM) in Europe, a study by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency showed.

(This story refiles to clarify Volocopter company will present one of its aircraft, paragraph 7)

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Reporting by Francesco Zecchini; editing by Agnieszka Flak, Robert Birsel

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