Joby Aviation Signs Exclusive 6-Year Deal for Electric Air Taxi Service in Dubai

Other electric air taxi manufacturers, including Joby competitor Archer Aviation, had previously announced operational agreements to fly in the region in 2026.

Are the United Arab Emirates becoming a hotbed for novel aircraft such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxis?

Joby Aviation, the manufacturer of a five-seat eVTOL design, has signed a definitive agreement with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), the government entity that regulates the city’s public transport, to launch air taxi operations in the UAE by early 2026, targeting initial service in 2025. The agreement gives Joby exclusive rights to operate air taxis in Dubai for six years, starting from the launch of commercial operations.

Notably, the news follows competitor Archer Aviation’s announcement that it too is planning a UAE expansion in 2026. The manufacturer partnered with local operator Falcon Aviation, which previously stated that it would operate Archer’s Midnight air taxi across Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Falcon in 2022 also purchased 35 air taxis from Embraer subsidiary Eve Air Mobility, noting that it planned to launch eVTOL tourism flights in Dubai.

Archer further announced the planned sale of 100 aircraft to Dubai-based operator Air Chateau for $500 million, which intends to service both cities.

While the operational partners of Archer, Eve, and other manufacturers will still be able to fly air taxis in the UAE, only Joby will be authorized to operate in the Dubai region, it said.

“We are excited by Joby’s recent announcement to join Archer in bringing electric air taxis to the UAE region in 2026,” Archer said in a statement to FLYING. “We continue to build on the launch plans we announced last year with our long-term investors, Mubadala, the support of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, and several local operating partners, including Falcon Aviation, Air Chateau, and GAL & AMMROC [Global Aerospace Logistics – Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul Center].”

Signed in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, at the World Governments Summit, Joby’s agreement secures financial assistance and other support from RTA for the entry and maturation of operations in the city.

Joby also signed an agreement with Skyports, which will design, build, and operate four initial vertiport sites across Dubai. The three partners settled on Dubai International Airport (OMDB), Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, and Dubai Downtown as launch locations.

“[This] landmark agreement delivers on all three ingredients required to successfully launch an air taxi service—a definitive path to operations, well-placed infrastructure supported by dedicated partners, and an aircraft with the capacity and range to deliver meaningful journeys,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby. “We’re excited to be laying the groundwork for the expansion of our service across the wider UAE.”

Joby’s zero-emission air taxi is designed for a pilot to fly up to four passengers on 100 sm (87 nm) trips at speeds up to 200 mph (174 knots). Unlike its competitors, the company plans to operate the aircraft itself. Archer, for example, intends for partner United Airlines to do the flying. Joby, meanwhile, is working with Delta Air Lines to launch service out of New York and Los Angeles in 2025.

According to Joby and RTA, a journey from Dubai International Airport to the Palm Jumeirah—a 45-minute trip by car—is expected to take just 10 minutes by air taxi. The partners are working with the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to develop a regulatory framework for the aircraft’s introduction, building upon FAA guidelines.

“The air taxi service is part of RTA’s efforts to embrace future transportation technologies and offers a novel and efficient mobility option for Dubai’s residents and visitors, enabling fast, safe, and convenient travel to key city spots,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors for RTA. “This service will also enhance seamless multimodal transportation, improving citywide connectivity and ensuring a smooth travel experience for passengers.”

Joby, RTA, and Skyports are now collaborating to design the customer journey, engage stakeholders, and integrate air taxis into Dubai’s wider public transport network. Joby in addition has established a Dubai operational team composed largely of local recruits. It added that it would consider localizing its other business activities in Dubai and the Middle East, which it evidently views as a potentially key market.

The manufacturer will participate in the recently announced Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster established by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), of which Archer is also a member.

Separately, the firm said it will continue its internal flight testing and type certification activities. In November, its production prototype became the first electric air taxi to fly in New York City, taking off from downtown Manhattan. The previous month it began uncrewed flight testing, an important step toward certification.

Joby’s exclusive agreement with RTA could hinder the plans of Archer, Eve, and other competitors. Those companies have announced plans to fly outside of Dubai as well. But the RTA’s decision to tap Joby as the city’s sole air taxi provider will take away—at least for a few years—what appears to be a burgeoning market for future air mobility services.

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