Kenya Airways (KQ) is set to purchase 40 flying taxis from two Brazilian firms to develop its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market. The national carrier has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with EVE UAM, LLC, a subsidiary of Eve Holding, Inc. (“Eve”) and a carve-out of Embraer S.A. (“Embraer”)
The LOI covers joint studies through a working group to develop and scale flying taxi operations in Kenya. KQ is also seeking to venture into the delivery business by 2026 with a new business model in cargo drone operations. The operations will be launched through KQ’s new subsidiary, Fahari Aviation.
Flying taxis, technically known as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts use a new technology that uses electricity to hover, take off and land vertically in cities, making it an excellent choice for areas prone to traffic jams.
“The journey to realise the dream of eVTOL vehicles in Kenya is on course and the partnership with EVE UAM is a key achievement for us as part of the strategy to adopt new technologies as a growth strategy for the sustainable development of Africa,” Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said on Tuesday.
He added that KQ had not gotten into any financial commitments as the studies were still being carried out.
“It is a LOI but we need to do the joint study first so no financial commitment for now. We have not acquired the vehicles it is an LOI,” he said.
Many global airlines are adopting electric aircrafts as a solution for navigating busy urban areas and for the addition of its revenue streams. They are used for urban taxi services, parcel delivery, medical assistance and recreation with minimal military use.
In June 2021, Vertical Aerospace received pre-orders for 1,000 aircraft from American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and planes lessor, Avalon Holdings.
As of January 2022, the Embraer spinoff Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions had already gotten orders and signed contracts with 17 companies for 1,735 orders of its aircraft, valued at $5 billion (Sh568 billion)
Eve has also inked a deal with Kenya Airways to develop operational models for urban air mobility through Fahari Aviation. According to the terms of the agreement, Eve will collaborate with Fahari to establish its mobility network, as well as the necessary urban air traffic management procedures and operating environment.
Meanwhile, Fahari will assist Eve’s aircraft and product development process, which will help guide Kenya Airways’ integration.