The U.S. airline Delta has announced an investment of $60 million in Joby Aviation Inc. JOBY 9.26%▲ to establish a flying taxi business, which it plans to roll out in New York and Los Angeles.
The airline will have a 2% stake in Joby, which has already received backing from Uber Technologies. Joby went public through a SPAC deal in 2021 with a post-money equity value of $6.6 billion
Delta suggested that it may invest up to $200 million in the business if the initial rollout is successful. The CEO of Delta, Ed Bastian, stated: “I’m optimistic that there are better ways, and certainly more sustainable ways, to get to the airport than sitting in one to two-hour traffic jams on the way to JFK or LaGuardia or LAX.” He also emphasised the potential for more markets “down the road.”
Several aviation companies, including United and American Airlines, have stated their interest in the use of electric aircraft that take off and land vertically, such as helicopters, to transport passengers from the city to the airport in a faster and more environmentally friendly way.
To this end, United has already announced an investment of $15 million in Eve Air Mobility for the purchase of 200 four-passenger aircraft. It has also invested $10 million in Archer Aviation for the development of 100 flying taxis. Meanwhile, American Airlines announced an investment of $25 million in Vertical Aerospace for 50 flying taxis in 2021.
Air-taxi companies have boomed in recent years, with manufacturers in the sector raising over $7 billion from investors in the last two years alone. However, these companies will have to be certified to be allowed to fly passengers in the U.S., with the Federal Aviation Administration requiring a powered-lift rating from all pilots manning an aircraft of this type.