Soaring in Dubai skies in air taxis could cost as little as an Uber ride in the future, a top official from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has said. Residents and tourists could fly in the aerial taxis as soon as 2026.
Ahmed Bahrozyan, Chief Executive Officer of The Public Transport Agency at RTA, said “We believe that it will be not very far from the price of a normal Uber possibly, and that's when really it becomes a normal service that anybody can use.”
On Sunday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved the design of the new air taxi stations in the city and said the taxis will start operating in three years.
However, according to Bahrozyan, it could be a while before the prices go down. “It may be initially that the price will be more attractive for tourists and businesspeople who really want to get from point A to point B, and as fast as possible, and are willing to pay maybe a slightly higher fee for that,” he said. “Eventually, we believe as the production of the vehicles increases, the cost of technology comes down, and we start having more demand. We are confident that as we go along, it will become a day-to-day mode of transport for many people living in the city.”
The air taxis, which are electric, will also have zero operating emissions, a 241 km max range, and a top speed of 300km/hr.
According to Bahrozyan, with the kind of range the taxis offer, inter-city travel could be a possibility. “The range of these vehicles, even though they're fully electric, allow them to do intercity trips. So potentially in the future, we could have trips from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and from Dubai to Fujairah.”
Should this become a possibility, it could cut down the travel time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to 30 minutes.
Safety, sustainability and affordability are the main factors the RTA is taking into consideration when planning the air taxis. “We have a very, very strong safety record across all our modes taxis, buses, metro cycling, etc,” said Bahrozyan. “So safety is paramount for us. Sustainability now is very much at the forefront of the agenda in Dubai and the UAE. These air taxis are electric and very quiet as compared to helicopters for example.”
He also said that a service such as the air taxi will only fit into the ecosystem of the city if it can be used by general public. “If a service is very high priced, it really becomes more only catering for tourists,” he said. “So we will also work with the operators to ensure that the price of the service eventually comes down to a level that is affordable for everyone.”
The initial launch network of vertiports will connect 4 main areas in Dubai – near Dubai International airport, Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina.
According to Daniel O’Neill from Skyports, the company that is building the vertiports, they have already shortlisted potential spots to build them. The spot next to the Emirates metro station is ideally located, providing great mobility integration with the metro and DXB airport. Regarding the remaining areas of Dubai “There are a few sites that we're looking at,” he said. “We still need to do a bit more on the technical side of things to confirm. But we are confident that the shortlisted sites that we have identified in conjunction with the RTA, that we can roll out vertiport infrastructure, enabling a network by 2026."
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