Flying taxis a step closer after deal with German airports


These bizarre-looking vertical takeoff taxis will soon be operating between cities around the world after the German company behind it signed its first deals with local airports.

The German start-up Lilium, located in the southern German state of Bavaria, is positioning itself to be the global leader in regional electric air mobility and the company has already planned hubs in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the US state of Florida, with passenger flights projected from 2024 onwards.

It is particularly attractive to airports because there is no noise from the electric taxis and therefore zero disturbance to local residents which is often a big factor in built-up areas, and it also boasts very low carbon emissions.

The vertical takeoff taxis that they have developed are set to start operating at so-called vertiports centralised in the cities of Munich and Nuremberg in 2025, while two more hubs will be opened in the cities of Cologne and Dusseldorf after that.

Lilium spokesperson Rainer Ohler added: ‘After that, we have planned an expansion of the network to other cities as well.’

He also explained how the Lilium Jet airports look like by saying the devices did not need landing strips, adding: ‘Our vertiports are basically helicopter landing pads with one entrance.’

According to Ohler, the flight ticket within the country should cost just as much as a train ticket for a shorter journey which is around EUR 50 (GBP 43).

Speaking about the Nuremberg-Munich route, he explained: ‘At the beginning, we will still be at the price you would pay if you took a taxi (EUR 300; GBP 258) however later we’ll go by ICE [Intercity Express] price” of EUR 50.’

The latest information revealed that based on agreements with landing site operators, Lilium has undertaken extensive preparatory work, covering site search, structural implementation and airspace integration, as well as use cases and routes.

Lilium CEO Daniel Weigand said: ‘I am very pleased with our successful partnership with the two airports. Of course, we are doing everything we can to bring all-electric and ultra-quiet airline service to our home base of Bavaria, as well as to link Munich and Nuremberg even more closely with neighbouring cities and regions.’

Bavarian State Minister Florian Herrmann said that eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) projects were ‘fascinating and promises addition to the mobility of the future and thus is triggering completely new planning and solution possibilities’.

He also added: ‘We therefore support efforts to add this particularly environmentally responsible dimension to air mobility. With the Air Mobility Initiative Bavaria as part of the High-Tech Agenda Plus, we are making EUR 100 Million (GBP 86,1 Million) available in the upcoming years for research and development for new forms of urban air mobility.’

He also explained that the jet taxis represent a great potential for quiet, emission-free and fast mobility in optimised networks of individual transport systems for the Bavarian State Government.

Munich and Nuremberg airport authorities are also welcoming Lilium’s project and see it as one of the most important future goals after the pandemic ends.

Jost Lammers, CEO of the Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in the city of Munich said: ‘We look forward to welcoming more efficient links between the airport and the regional and long-distance rail services. Here, the planned Bavarian Lilium network offers interesting prospects, because small electric aircraft can contribute to better connectivity in the area as a supplement to feeder traffic.’

Michael Hupe, Managing Director of the Albrecht Durer Airport in the city of Nuremberg also had a thought regarding the project and said: ‘The people and companies of the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region demand mobility.

‘It is important to promote and establish new forms of sustainable mobility at our location. Since several transport corridors meet in Nuremberg, many ground-based transport systems are heavily congested. This gives the location enormous potential for such an innovative product.’

Marc Schuller, 57, from the German Greens (Alliance 90/The Greens which is a green political party in Germany) said he sees “the development of the vertiports as positive” since the Lilium jet has a great carbon dioxide balance.

In March, Lilium announced its first serial aircraft, the 7-seater Lilium Jet with a maximum range of 250 kilometres (155 miles) and a cruise speed of 280 kph (174 mph), with zero operating emissions.

The jet has been in development since 2019 and it received its CRI-A01 certifications basis from EASA last year.

The first aircraft is expected to come off the production line next year, with a capacity of six passengers and a pilot.