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Dubai confirms plans to launch Flying Taxis by 2026

23 February 2023
Dubai has once again confirmed its plan to launch Flying taxis by 2026 Since the year 2017, Dubai which is already home to world’s tallest building and several other architectural wonders, has promised to launch flying taxis in the city.

Since then, different types of taxis and companies have been considered to keep up the promise. The Annual World Government Summit saw this year’s edition beginning Monday, wherein Dubai’s Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum took to Twitter to announce the relaunch of flying taxi program.

This time, in its promotional video, Dubai emphasized the six-rotor electric flying taxi manufactured by Joby Aviation of Santa Cruz, California. This inclusion of Joby Aviation, rather than the Chinese-made EHang 184 and XPeng X2, or the German-made electric Volocopter were all earlier displayed in Dubai, but wasn’t explained by the Emirati officials. Joby aircraft featured a stand at the World Government Summit.

A spokesperson for Joby Aviation, Oliver Walker-Jones said, “We’re excited about the opportunity and actively exploring the possibility.”

An official at the emirate’s RTA, Ahmed Bahrozyan, who spoke to the media also said that it is too early to comment on the plan, as they haven’t yet signed with the partners.

Another note-worthy difference this year is the release of specifics about the program. The city plans four “vertiports” by Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest airport for international travel, Downtown Dubai, the manmade Palm Jumeirah archipelago and Dubai Marina. These points will include two launching pads and four charging points for the taxis.

These are attractive areas with business hubs, tourist hubs, which are likely to generate considerable demand, Bahrozyan said, adding that the pricing for the Flying taxis will be in the range of limousine service in Dubai, or may be slightly higher.

According to the RTA, the rates of limo services may be at least 30 percent higher than taxi fares in the city. The taxis have a minimum fare of $3.25 and charge $0.50 per kilometre. RTA planning to have piloted flying taxis at first, rather than autonomous ones as previously discussed.

Dubai officials described taxi as having a pilot with four seats for passengers on board, matching Joby’s electric flying taxi. But Bahrozyan said tests would continue with autonomous flying taxis too.

The Joby prototype will be able to fly over 240kms before it comes back for a charge. It takes off and lands vertically, while its rotors tilt forward in flight, and has a maximum speed of 320kph.

The video posted by Sheikh Mohammed in Twitter also included the logo of London-based Skyports infrastructure, which refers its supported projects as “vertiports.” The company is testing its “vertiport” model outside of Paris and is working with Joby.

The Flying Taxis, once launched, is expected to ease the grind of daily traffic that is worsening in Dubai, as the population booms to more than 3.5 million. More than 1.8 million Dubai-registered vehicles ply on its roads, apart from those crowding in from the six other emirates of the UAE.

The launch of Flying Taxis also meets the emirate’s desire to move away from carbon-belching gasoline and diesel vehicles as the UAE will host the forthcoming United Nations COP28 climate talks later in the year. However, on the other hand, the Emirates hopes to expand its production of crude oil ahead of a promised “carbon-neutral” future by 2050.

By the year 2030, Dubai hopes to have at least a quarter of driverless cards on roads.

Robin Vinod

Writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment and everyday life on GCC countries.

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