Paris set to test its first flying airport taxis this summer

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Paris set to test its first flying airport taxis this summer
A Volocopter air taxi is presented at the Pontoise airport in Cormeilles-en-Vexin, on September 30th 2020. Photo: AFP

Paris says it will test its first flying taxis in June, the first step in an ambitious plan to establish a fully-functioning air network by 2030.


Travel of any kind seems like a distant dream at the moment, but if all goes to plan, Parisians may be able to take a flying taxi to the airport in 2030.

RATP, which runs the Paris public transport system, is in the process of working together with Aéroports de Paris (ADP) and Choose Paris Region, the government agency set up to promote the French capital, on getting the new taxi system up and flying. 

"We're envisaging some thousand flights per day," Marie-Claude Dupuis, director of strategy, innovation and development at RATP, told Le Figaro.

While they won't be fully operating until 2030 at the earliest, the first flying taxis will apparently do test runs in June 2021.

"During the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, our goal is to do demonstration flights with people on board," said Dupuis.

By then, "three operators should be operational," she said.

On Monday, RATP, ADP and Choose Paris Region decided on 31 companies out of 150 candidates who will be part of the new ecosystem.

Among them were Volocopter (German), Airbus, Ehang (Chinese) and Pipistrel (Slovenian).
Saves time

France is not alone in looking to move traffic off its roads and up in the air. As countries worldwide want to upgrade their urban mobility, businesses are jumping on the trend to join the booming market.

IN PICTURES: Paris tests out new 'flying' water taxi as way to beat the traffic



Edward Arkwright, Managing Director of ADP, told Le Parisien the taxis "do not only inspire dreams, but have intrinsic qualities: greatly reduced noise, a low-carbon means of transport, a lower cost of maintenance and infrastructure, and offers relatively high value on saving time."
Paris already has "Sea Bubble", flying electric taxis driving on the Seine river. Photo: AFP
The flying taxis, which look like tiny helicopters, will be able to transport travellers from the French capital to the airport or back in a fraction of the time it takes with a regular taxi or public transport. 

A 40-minute journey (depending on traffic) from La Défense, west of the French capital, to the northern airport Charles de Gaulle, will be slashed down to 15 minutes.

Most of the taxis are electric, while some run on hydrogen, so they are less polluting than regular cars.

However the model is still too expensive and the operators are working on how to cut costs by increasing the number of seats in each car to six, up from two currently.

"To be profitable, operators will also have to free up the pilot's seat," Dupuis said, "even if that means steering the machine from the ground before switching to a fully autonomous vehicle."

In other words, passengers will be sticking to regular taxis or the RER for the foreseeable future.



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