RIYADH: Air taxis will take to the skies above the Saudi city of NEOM thanks to a deal signed with German-based Volocopter in what will be a world's first bespoke public transport development.
NEOM has ordered 15 Volocopter aircraft to start initial flight operations within the next two to three years, it said on its website.
Of those, ten will carry passengers while the remaining five will transport logistics.
NEOM, a regional development in northwest Saudi Arabia, has created a joint venture company with Volocopter which will be the sole operator of the initial public transit routes across the city.
It will also enable an open electric vertical take-off and landing ecosystem for vertical mobility services, known as eVTOL.
This includes logistics, emergency response, and tourism.
Nadhmi Al-Nasr, the CEO of NEOM, said: “In designing cities and urban infrastructure for the 21st century, mobility is at the center of the equation.
“Through this joint venture with Volocopter, we are demonstrating to the world that NEOM is the ideal region to implement urban air mobility rapidly and create a fully integrated vertical mobility ecosystem.”
Christian Bauer, the chief commercial officer at Volocopter, described the deal as an “exciting journey,” adding: “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be an essential part of designing and operating a completely new UAM (urban air mobility) ecosystem from the ground up without the constraint of legacy infrastructure or regulation, and as pioneers in the industry, Volocopter is honored to be the trusted partner to contribute to NEOM’s ambitious vision.”