Joby Aviation and Skyports Infrastructure to launch air taxi services in Dubai by 2026 as part of new agreement with RTA

Sky­ports Infra­struc­ture has signed a Defin­i­tive Agree­ment with Dubai’s Road and Trans­port Author­i­ty (RTA) and Joby Avi­a­tion to launch pas­sen­ger air taxi ser­vices in Dubai by 2026.

The agree­ment rep­re­sents the first time glob­al­ly that a trans­port author­i­ty, ver­ti­port oper­a­tor, air­craft man­u­fac­tur­er and rel­e­vant reg­u­la­to­ry bod­ies have part­nered to enable Advanced Air Mobil­i­ty. It will also see Dubai become the first loca­tion with a com­mer­cial, city-wide elec­tric air taxi ser­vice.

The part­ner­ship was signed at the World Gov­ern­ments Sum­mit in Dubai and endorsed by His High­ness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Ruler of Dubai, Prime Min­is­ter and Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates. It gives Sky­ports exclu­sive rights to build and oper­ate ver­ti­ports in Dubai.

Dun­can Walk­er, founder and CEO of Sky­ports said: “Today marks a sig­nif­i­cant step towards the launch of com­mer­cial air taxi ser­vices in Dubai. The indus­try has nev­er been clos­er to mak­ing it a real­i­ty.”

“This agree­ment brings togeth­er the key enablers of advanced air mobil­i­ty: strong, inno­v­a­tive local lead­er­ship; a world-lead­ing air­craft part­ner; and crit­i­cal ground infra­struc­ture inte­grat­ed with the Emirate’s exist­ing trans­porta­tion net­works.”

“The strate­gic posi­tion­ing of our ver­ti­ports in key loca­tions across Dubai will enhance con­nec­tiv­i­ty and pro­vide a faster trav­el option for res­i­dents and vis­i­tors. With the Defin­i­tive Agree­ment signed, now begins the excit­ing part: design­ing and build­ing our ver­ti­ports.”

The par­ties will take on the fol­low­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties:

  • Sky­ports will design, con­struct, own and oper­ate ver­ti­ports to pro­vide crit­i­cal take-off and
    land­ing infra­struc­ture at key loca­tions across the Emi­rate
  • RTA, as Dubai’s trans­port author­i­ty, will over­see and reg­u­late AAM ser­vices
  • Joby will man­u­fac­ture, cer­ti­fy, and oper­ate eVTOL air taxis in the Emi­rate

The ini­tial net­work will include four ver­ti­ports locat­ed by Dubai Inter­na­tion­al Air­port (DXB), Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Down­town and Dubai Mari­na. Flights between Sky­ports’ ver­ti­ports will reduce jour­ney times sig­nif­i­cant­ly, with a typ­i­cal jour­ney from DXB to Palm Jumeirah expect­ed to take 10 min­utes by air taxi com­pared with 45 min­utes by car.

The project will inte­grate with RTA’s exten­sive pub­lic trans­port net­work to facil­i­tate inter­modal trav­el, enhance con­nec­tiv­i­ty across Dubai and enable a seam­less pas­sen­ger jour­ney.

Detailed stud­ies have been com­plet­ed at the four loca­tions and archi­tec­tur­al design has com­menced for the first phase of devel­op­ment. Ver­ti­port cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and approval process has begun with the Gen­er­al Civ­il Avi­a­tion Author­i­ty (GCAA), Dubai Civ­il Avi­a­tion Author­i­ty (DCAA), Dubai Air Nav­i­ga­tion Ser­vices (dans) and oth­er crit­i­cal gov­ern­ment stake­hold­ers.

JoeBen Bevirt, CEO and founder, Joby Avi­a­tion, said: “Today’s 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.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to deliv­er­ing an incred­i­ble expe­ri­ence for res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to Dubai as ear­ly as 2025 and we’re excit­ed to be lay­ing the ground­work for the expan­sion of our ser­vice across the wider UAE.”

Joby and the RTA have been work­ing close­ly with the Gen­er­al Civ­il Avi­a­tion Author­i­ty (GCAA) of the UAE to ensure there is a reg­u­la­to­ry route to sup­port His High­ness Sheikh Mohammed’s vision of being a world leader in the intro­duc­tion of air taxis.

The GCAA reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work builds upon FAA stan­dards with addi­tion­al com­pa­ny test­ing and analy­sis along­side a high lev­el of reg­u­la­tor over­sight and an ongo­ing oper­a­tional review process to ensure con­tin­ued safe­ty for ear­ly oper­a­tions.

RTA, Joby and Sky­ports will now work on a wide range of top­ics, from cus­tomer jour­ney design to stake­hold­er engage­ment and the inte­gra­tion of Joby’s ser­vice into the wider pub­lic trans­port net­work in Dubai.

To sup­port the devel­op­ment of its oper­a­tions in Dubai, Joby has estab­lished a local oper­at­ing enti­ty and intends to recruit local­ly for the major­i­ty of its oper­a­tional team. The com­pa­ny will also con­sid­er local­iza­tion of oth­er glob­al busi­ness activ­i­ties in Dubai and across the region.

Joby recent­ly announced it will par­tic­i­pate in the Smart and Autonomous Vehi­cle Indus­try (SAVI) clus­ter estab­lished by the Abu Dhabi Invest­ment Office (ADIO), as part of explor­ing broad­er oper­a­tions across the UAE.

His Excel­len­cy Mat­tar Al Tay­er, Direc­tor-Gen­er­al, Chair­man of the Board of Exec­u­tive Direc­tors for RTA, added: “The Dubai air taxi ini­tia­tive is part of RTA’s efforts to embrace future trans­porta­tion tech­nolo­gies and enable fast, safe, and con­ve­nient trav­el to key city spots.

“Sky­ports’ ver­ti­ports will stand out for their inno­v­a­tive design, which facil­i­tates seam­less mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion and improves city­wide con­nec­tiv­i­ty, ensur­ing a smooth trav­el expe­ri­ence for pas­sen­gers.”

In Novem­ber 2023, Joby’s air­craft became one of the first elec­tric air taxis to fly in New York City, build­ing on a num­ber of recent suc­cess­es includ­ing the launch of pro­duc­tion at the Company’s ini­tial man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty in Cal­i­for­nia in June 2023 and the first ever deliv­ery of an elec­tric air taxi to the U.S. Depart­ment of Defense in Sep­tem­ber 2023.

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Jason Pritchard

Jason Pritchard is the Editor of eVTOL Insights. He holds a BA from Leicester's De Montfort University and has worked in Journalism and Public Relations for more than a decade. Outside of work, Jason enjoys playing and watching football and golf. He also has a keen interest in Ancient Egypt.

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