Dubai International Unveils ‘Flight to Your Flight’ Vertiport Plan

Skyports and Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority are aiming for development of a “network of vertiports for air taxi services” beginning in 2026.

A visualization of Skyports’ and Foster + Partners’ vertiport concept at Dubai International Airport. [Courtesy: Foster + Partners]

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the prime minister, vice president, and minister of defense of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has a penchant for ambitious projects. Under his lead, the UAE in 2020 became the first Arab nation to reach Mars, and in December it set out to reach the moon.

Now, the former crown prince of Dubai has signed off on a project to transform the city’s aviation hub.

Last week, British architecture firm Foster + Partners unveiled a concept for a vertiport terminal at Dubai International Airport (OMDB), one of the busiest airports in the world. Under the proposal, the vertiport would support an air taxi service that ferries passengers to their terminal through the air—essentially, a flight to your flight.

“The conceptual vertiport connects with Dubai International Airport and the Dubai Metro, to provide seamless, sustainable travel across the city for international and domestic passengers,” explained David Summerfield, head of studio at Foster + Partners.

The British firm developed the concept, which it says has been endorsed by Sheikh Mohammed, with Skyports, a leader in the nascent vertiport and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) space. The companies are eyeing four potential locations for vertiports in the area, Dubai International among them.

Early images of the vertiport depict helicopter-like aircraft buzzing around a central hub, presumably waiting to pick up passengers. Per Foster + Partners, the building will be situated on an elevated deck, connecting the arrival and departure lounges by wrapping around the airfield.

A depiction of the DXB vertiport concept, with car-sized quadcopters whizzing around a central hub. [Courtesy: Foster + Partners]

According to Summerfield, Skyports and Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) are aiming for the development of a “network of vertiports for air taxi services” beginning in 2026. 

The implication here is that the Dubai vertiport won’t be the last—and in fact, it probably won’t be the first.

Last month, another vertiport company, VPorts, signed a deal with Ras Al Khaimah (OMRK) airport, about 60 miles south of Dubai International, to establish its own terminal. Fetih Chebil, CEO of VPorts, said the hub will eventually transport people and goods to Dubai through a dedicated advanced air mobility corridor. Construction is slated to begin later this year.

Outside of the UAE, the vertiport trend is still gathering momentum. This month, Rajiv Bansal, secretary of India’s Ministry of Aviation, announced his desire to establish the country as an eVTOL and advanced air mobility powerhouse, calling on industry leaders to provide feedback.

“EVTOL’s future is not as far as it seems. It is much closer than what it appears. We are in 2023, and in 2025 this global dream will become a reality, and India very much wants to be part of this global initiative,” Bansal said during a conference on advanced and short-haul air mobility.

A similar movement is taking place at home in the U.S., where the White House rolled out a set of priorities aimed at achieving “global leadership” in advanced aviation, including technologies like eVTOL and air taxis.

Already, a few companies have answered the call. Last month, United Airlines and Archer Aviation announced their plans to create an air taxi service for Chicago’s O’Hare airport, which is expected to be up and running by 2025.

Meanwhile, in New York City, rivals Beta Technologies and Blade Air Mobility are targeting FAA approvals by 2024 and 2026, respectively. In February, the pair successfully completed a watershed test flight at the Westchester County Airport, just outside the city.

And with federal regulations in the works to further address technologies like air taxis and eVTOL, the U.S. may see even more activity in the coming years.

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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