Joanita Wibowo

International Travel

Flying taxis in Paris may only be a few years away

Flying taxis in Paris may only be a few years away

When you’re visiting Paris today, it can take up to 90 minutes by bus or train from Charles de Gaulle airport to the city.

However, travellers may expect an enticing alternative to become available in a matter of years: Autonomous flying taxis.

Airbus, Aeroports de Paris (ADP) and the Paris Transport Authority said they are aiming to have the new transport option up and running by the 2024 Paris Olympics. The service is expected to see the taxis take off every six minutes, allowing visitors to save time on their trip.

“In 2010, for the first time, more than half of humanity was living in urban zones and we think we shall surpass 60 per cent by 2030,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.

The time has come to explore the “third dimension” of local commutes – that is, air – Faury said.

“If we have the conviction that in the next five, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years low altitude is a space to be conquered we have to put in place the conditions today,” said ADP Group’s executive director general Edward Arkwright.

A feasibility study will be launched into “vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles”, including traffic management, urban integration, maintenance, and design and production.

As the manufacturer, Airbus already has two prototype models – the single-seat Vahana and the four-seater CityAirbus.

ADP has to pick a site for a flying taxi hub around Paris by the end of this year. The plan is to have the venue ready in 18 months, but it will require an infrastructure investment of €10 million, ADP executive director general Edward Arkwright said.

Some concerns need to be addressed before the flying taxi service is launched, according to Jean-Louis Rassineux, head of aeronautics and defence issues for Deloitte. Apart from ensuring that the battery power and anti-collision detection are up to par, issues surrounding air traffic and compatibility with existing regulation and transport systems should also be considered.

“There remains some way to go before a flying vehicle becomes integrated into urban transport,” said France’s transport minister Elisabeth Borne.

Airbus is not the only company planning to release air taxis. Uber is expected to start testing its UberAir VTOL vehicles in 2020 with the aim of making commercial flying taxi trips available in 2023. The trial will take place in Melbourne as well as Dallas and Los Angeles.