Delhi: InterGlobe Enterprises, which runs India’s leading airline, IndiGo, and US-based Archer Aviation, have announced plans to introduce an all-electric air taxi service in India by 2026, Reuters reported.
The partnership, contingent on regulatory approvals, aims to address the escalating need for efficient transport solutions in India, a country grappling with severe ground travel congestion and urban pollution. Archer Aviation, endorsed by industry giants like Boeing and United Airlines, specialises in electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, considered the future of urban air mobility.
It’s still early days–IndiGo parent InterGlobe has only just signed a memorandum of understanding, with an intent to partner with Archer Aviation, which is building these aircraft. But InterGlobe hopes to start these services in about two years–by 2026. Each aircraft, called Midnight, can carry four passengers, and a pilot, and will run on electric power. A press note from the company says that these air taxis are designed to “perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights. The goal is for a passenger on an InterGlobe-Archer flight to be able to fly the 27-km Delhi trip from Connaught Place to Gurugram, typically taking 60 to 90 minutes by car, in approximately seven minutes”.
The maker of the Midnight aircraft, Archer Aviation, says that “these eVTOL aircraft take off vertically like a helicopter, fly forward like an airplane, and are entirely powered by electricity. And because they take off vertically, there is no runway required. Our aircraft can land on a traditional helicopter landing pad or retrofitted landing site (ex. the top of a parking garage), allowing them to seamlessly fit into the fabric of cities without any major disruption.” The company hopes to have 6,000 of these Midnight aircraft in the air by 2030, and has already booked orders from airline companies including United Airlines.
InterGlobe Enterprises, holding a nearly 38 per cent stake in IndiGo-parent InterGlobe Aviation, envisions using the e-aircraft for various purposes beyond passenger transport. Plans include deploying them for cargo, logistics, medical, emergency, and charter services, broadening the scope of their impact on India’s transportation landscape.
Archer Aviation recently secured a $142 million deal from the US Air Force in July to supply six Midnight aircraft. In October, the company announced plans to launch an air taxi service in the UAE. Archer Aviation’s shares reflected optimism, with a 1.5 per cent increase in U.S. premarket trading on Thursday.
Meanwhile, InterGlobe Aviation experienced a 0.12 per cent increase in its shares ahead of the groundbreaking announcement. As the collaboration progresses, regulatory clearances will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of electric air taxis in India, offering a potential solution to the country’s pressing urban mobility challenges.