Dublin-based aircraft leasing company Avolon and American Airlines have ordered electric aircraft from electric aircraft maker Vertical Aerospace.
Vertical Aerospace, an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) maker backed by investors such as American Airlines, has said that it will go public through a merger with a blank-check firm in a deal valued at $2.2 billion.
Vertical Aerospace said that it has pre-orders for up to 1,000 eVTOL aircraft with launch customers Dublin-based aircraft leasing company Avolon and American Airlines, along with a pre-order option from Virgin Atlantic, all valued at up to $4 billion.
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American has agreed to pre-order up to 250 aircraft, representing a potential commitment of $1 billion, and an option to order an additional 100 aircraft.
"If you think about transportation strategically this is the next big frontier," Domhnal Slattery, chief executive of Avolon, the world's third-largest aircraft leasing company, told Reuters in an interview. "Whether it is airlines operating this as an add-on product or ride sharing businesses in different jurisdictions, I think it is going to take a lot of different forms over time."
Mounting Pressure To Decarbonise
Investment in the zero-emission electric aircraft comes at a time when aviation companies are under mounting pressure from investors to help decarbonise the sector and boost their environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores.
Analysts say that a key question is how long it will take for the new electric aircraft to be certified by aviation authorities.
Europe's top regulator said last month that the region could see the first flying taxis enter service as early as 2024.
Vertical will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "EVTL", following a deal with Broadstone Acquisition Corp. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.
American Airlines and Avolon, as well as Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, have invested in Vertical via a private investment in public equity transaction, the company said.
Microsoft's venture fund M12, investment manager 40 North and venture capital firm Rocket Internet SE are also some of Vertical's investors, the company said.
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