AirAsia to lease at least 100 flying taxis to launch air ridesharing service

February 17, 2022 - 2:06 PM
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AirAsia aircraft
Photo of an Indonesian AirAsia airbus. (Creative Commons/Stock photo)
  • Will lease Vertical Aerospace VX4s from Avolon
  • Aims to launch low-cost services in Southeast Asia
  • First VX4 test flight expected in April

SINGAPORE — AirAsia Aviation Group on Wednesday unveiled plans for a low-cost air ridesharing service in Southeast Asia after signing a non-binding deal with lessor Avolon for at least 100 Vertical Aerospace VX4 electric vehicles.

Tony Fernandes, chief executive of AirAsia parent Capital A , said flights could start by 2025, with regulators in Malaysia and Singapore likely to approve operations far more quickly than in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

He said the air ridesharing services would be bookable through AirAsia’s mobile app and offered at an accessible price point, just as the budget carrier had done for its regular flights.

“We don’t want this to be an exclusive product,” Fernandes told reporters. “We want everyone to be able to use this product.”

Avolon ordered 500 VX4 aircraft from Vertical Aerospace last year and has since placed 90% with AirAsia, Japan Airlines and Brazil’s Gol and Grupo Comporte.

The four-passenger, one-pilot VX4 is expected to have a range of more than 100 miles (160 km) and is one of a growing number of entrants in the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) sector.

Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery, who is also the chairman of Vertical Aerospace, said the first VX4 test flights would start in April. —Reporting by Chen Lin; writing by Jamie Freed; editing by Jason Neely