AirAsia signs partnership with Skyports to explore air taxi feasibility – initial assessments will focus on KL –

AirAsia has announced that its Advanced Air Mobility division has signed a letter of intent with Skyports Infrastructure to explore the development of air taxi infrastructure in Malaysia. This is a development of a report from last March, where AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes told Bloomberg that the company has plans to launch a flying taxi service by 2022.

AirAsia’s Advanced Air Mobility is a dedicated unit of AirAsia Aviation Group, which is the aviation arm of Capital A. Meanwhile, Skyports is a developer of infrastructure for advanced air mobility (AAM), and the newly established partnership between both companies is seen as an important next step in setting up a fully operation vertiport network in the country.

Unlike conventional airports used by traditional airline operators, a vertiport is dedicated to aircrafts which land and take off vertically. VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, as they are called, require less room to operate, and AirAsia has already announced last year that one of its future plans is to lease 100 Vertical Aerospace VX4 eVTOL (electric powered) from Avolon. The company also has its drone training programme which has been extended to high-technology related sectors.

The VX4 features a powertrain with 1 MW of output and is said to be 100 times quieter than a helicopter. It’s capable of travelling at speeds of up to 325 km/h (202 mph), has a range of over 161 km (100 miles) and can carry five passengers (including one pilot).

During the one-year partnership, both parties will focus on joint feasibility studies for the integration of air taxi vertiport infrastructure, the identification of potential vertiport sites, and the development of operational requirements and frameworks to ultimately implement a vertiport network in Malaysia – initial assessments will prioritise Kuala Lumpur.

“Following the announcement of our venture into the urban air taxi service earlier this year, we have been working around the clock to explore its feasibility in Malaysia. This partnership with Skyports will accelerate the review of the infrastructure including vertical take-off and landing platforms in the country as well as strengthen our potential as a zero-emissions ultra-short-haul air travel provider in Southeast Asia,” said AirAsia Aviation Group chief safety officer and head of AAM Ling Liong Tien.

“We are excited to be partnering with AirAsia, a powerhouse airline operator that brings great synergy to our work at Skyports. This partnership highlights the steady progress of AAM development and interest in Malaysia and the wider APAC region. With innovative and forward-looking partners like AirAsia, we will be able to take concrete steps towards the realisation of a safe, efficient and fully-integrated air taxi network which brings real benefits to the people and communities it serves,” commented Yun-Yuan Tay, head of Asia Pacific, Skyports.

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