Archer to Install Electric Air Taxi Hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi

Vertiports will connect the two cities with estimated 30-minute flights, a fraction of the two hours it can take to drive between them during peak traffic.

Archer Falcon Dubai UAE vertiport electric air taxi

Archer Aviation, manufacturer of the Midnight electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi, is stepping up its plans for service in the United Arab Emirates as soon as next year.

The company on Monday expanded its partnership with Emirati aviation services provider Falcon Aviation to build a vertiport network for eVTOL air taxi operations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the two largest cities in the UAE. San Jose, California-based Archer expects the UAE to be its first international launch market.

Archer and Falcon initially agreed upon a deal that would see Falcon operate “scores” of Midnight aircraft across the UAE and expand the former’s urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem. The collaboration includes the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), the city’s central government hub for investment.

Archer believes it is the first to announce an eVTOL air taxi route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which it said is “one of the world’s most prominent and congested commute corridors.” The manufacturer estimated flights will last 30 minutes: a fraction of the two hours it could take to drive between the cities during peak traffic.

An aerial view of Archer and Falcon’s planned vertiport site at Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai. [Courtesy: Archer Aviation]

“Partnering with established operators such as Falcon Aviation, as well as the capital of the Emirates with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, has been key to quickly building our presence in the region,” said Archer founder and CEO Adam Goldstein. “We look forward to paving the way for the introduction of our Midnight aircraft to the region, which will set the stage for the UAE to become a global leader in urban air mobility.”

Preparing for (Vertical) Takeoff

Falcon last week upgraded its heliport terminal at Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai, a hub for sightseeing trips above the city’s skyline. The terminal also provides helicopter charter flights between the hotel and Abu Dhabi, as well as other nearby cities. As early as next year, Falcon will operate Midnight out of that site and its Marina Mall heliport in Abu Dhabi.

The vertiports will connect the two cities with routes almost entirely over water, providing scenic views for passengers. At the same time, Archer claims Midnight will be quieter, safer, and more affordable than comparable helicopters.

Archer and Falcon intend to install a vertiport at Falcon’s Marina Mall heliport in Abu Dhabi. [Courtesy: Archer Aviation]

“For nearly two decades, Falcon Aviation has been at the forefront of helicopter passenger transport in the UAE,” said Ramandeep Oberoi, CEO of Falcon. “Our partnership with Archer is a leap into the future, as we prepare to offer flying car services together in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, continuing our tradition of world-class transportation solutions.”

Archer’s vision is for Midnight to swap 60-90-minute commutes by car for back-to-back, 10-30-minute electric air taxi flights, with only 10-12 minutes of charge time between. Designed for a pilot plus up to four passengers, the aircraft has a range of 52 sm (45 nm) and cruise speed of 130 knots.

In addition to service in the U.S. in partnership with United Airlines, Archer intends to serve the entire UAE and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“We have made rapid progress in the UAE over the past three months since announcing Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be home to our first international Midnight flights as soon as 2025,” said Nikhil Goel, chief commercial officer of Archer. “We’re proud to be the first to announce plans to operate between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, along with vertiport infrastructure at both ends of the commuter journey.”

The ADIO, which is supporting Archer’s UAE launch with economic incentives, last year agreed to host the company’s engineering and manufacturing facilities within the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster, an urban hub designed to speed the development of new land, air, and sea vehicles. Manufacturing partner Stellantis—which will support Midnight mass production and is aiding the construction of Archer’s scaled manufacturing plant in Covington, Georgia—will help build them.

Archer last year also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Emirati private heliport operator Air Chateau International for the planned purchase of 100 Midnight air taxis, which Air Chateau will operate regionwide. The partners are further exploring infrastructure investments, such as for vertiports and electric aircraft chargers, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Complicating matters somewhat is the presence of eVTOL air taxi competitor Joby Aviation.

Joby last month signed an agreement with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA)—the government entity that regulates the city’s public transport—for the exclusive right to operate electric air taxi services in Dubai for six years following the launch of service. That’s expected to happen in 2025 or 2026.

However, while it sounds like the arrangement would prevent Joby’s competitors from flying in Dubai, Archer CEO Adam Goldstein told FLYING that will not be the case.

“I do not believe it will impact our operations in Dubai or our ambitions in Dubai,” said Goldstein. “We believe we will be able to operate there, and we will have a strong hub out of Abu Dhabi. We’re glad to see Joby coming to the region and leaning in, because we think it’s a good early market for eVTOL players to start.”

By stepping up the company’s partnership with Falcon, the Archer CEO is putting his money where his mouth is. Vertiport infrastructure is not cheap, and Archer likely would not pursue it if it believed Dubai to be off the table.

Falcon in 2022 also purchased 35 air taxis from Embraer subsidiary Eve Air Mobility, with the companies announcing plans to launch eVTOL tourism flights in Dubai. China’s EHang and Germany’s Lilium are among other air taxi manufacturers looking to operate in the UAE.

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Jack is a staff writer covering advanced air mobility, including everything from drones to unmanned aircraft systems to space travel—and a whole lot more. He spent close to two years reporting on drone delivery for FreightWaves, covering the biggest news and developments in the space and connecting with industry executives and experts. Jack is also a basketball aficionado, a frequent traveler and a lover of all things logistics.

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