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Can air taxis fly between Delhi and Gurgaon?

Flyovers aren't enough. So could you fly over jams?

What you've wished you could have done as you grind a way through crazy traffic is now a promise for 2026, which comes in the form of a collaboration between the parent company of India's largest airline and an American company - backed by aircraft giant Boeing - that makes flying five-seaters.

California-based Archer's taxi plane is called e-VTOL, short for electric vertical takeoff and landing.

InterGlobe Enterprises, which owns IndiGo, and Archer have announced plans to launch air taxi services between Delhi and Gurgaon, Bengaluru city and its international airport, and Bandra and Colaba in Mumbai.

Sunrise for Midnight?

Initial plans indicate that it will be expensive, but not much, and that it will be worth it because of the time saved. (Imagine getting to Gurgaon from Connaught Place in less than 10 minutes on a Monday morning).

Nikhil Goel, Archer's Archer's Indian-origin CCO, describes the cost per passenger to use the service as likely to be just a "slight premium" over Uber. "Delhi-Gurgaon, for instance, costs INR 1,500 to INR 2,000 by Uber. An air taxi (per passenger) will cost up to 1.5 times of that or INR 2,000-3,000," he says.

Uber prices, and any other aggregator, are dynamic and depend on demand. Gurgaon-Delhi can also cost less than INR 1000 if one is not travelling during heavy rush.

The e-VTOL Interglobe has selected is Archer's 12-rotor 'Midnight', which can seat a pilot and four passengers and fit in some luggage. The same model has been selected by American carrier United, one of backers of Archer, which has firmed up two routes for launch next year: between its Newark hub and downtown Manhattan, and Chicago O'Hare and the windy city centre. The UAE plans to use it to travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

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US approvals awaited

The FAA approval needed to operate such services in the United States (like the green light from India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is yet to come, but Archer hopes to get it this year. Once it starts flying in the US, India and the United Arab Emirates will be the next destinations for e-VTOL, subject of course to government approvals. Test flights will be carried out here, with the permission of the DGAC, before commercial launch.

Delhi NCR, where InterGlobe is headquartered (in Gurgaon), is likely to be the first place in India to have air taxi service. Apart from Mumbai and Bengaluru, the other cities on the proposed air taxi flight route are Hyderabad and Chennai.

“We are delighted to be working with Rahul (Bhatia, founder of IndiGo and chairman of Interglobe) and the entire Interglobe team to launch electric air taxis,” says Goel. "Interglobe is one of the world's strongest aviation and hospitality leaders and we couldn't be prouder of our partnership. We have made several trips to India to meet with senior regulatory, government and industry leaders to help accelerate our progress in the region.

The Interglobe-Archer deal

Parent company IndiGo has signed 200 Midnight e-VTOLs in a deal worth USD 1 billion. IndiGo and Archer intend to work together to build vertical ports (including cargo facilities) and train pilots. Signing this agreement last November, Bhatia said, "We are excited about this new opportunity to offer an efficient, futuristic and sustainable transportation solution by introducing Archer electric aircraft in India."

Archer will begin manufacturing Midnight products at its Georgia factory this year. It is working with auto major Stellantis to make air taxis elsewhere as well, including India. Among Archer's major investors is United, which, in addition to the equity investment, has placed an order for 200 electric helicopters and has the option to order 100 more. While Boeing helps with the technology, Stellantis (an Amsterdam-based company formed from the merger of Italian-American Fiat Chrysler and French group PSA) is helping bring best practices to high-volume manufacturing, according to Joel.

Also Read: Best car under 10 lakhs in India 2024

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