Joby signs contracts for first UAE vertiports

Plans to make the UAE one of the first sites for revolutionary urban air mobility (UAM) have advanced with two significant contracts.

Image: Joby

Two sites, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have been identified as initial locations for the new generation of electrically-powered vertical take-off (e-VTOL) aircraft that are predicted to become part of the aeronautical landscape in the coming decade.

US eVTOL aircraft manufacturer Joby has signed an agreement with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority, granting the company exclusive rights to operate air taxis in Dubai for six years, from early 2026.

Joby has also signed an agreement with Skyports, which will design, build and operate four initial vertiport sites across Dubai – Dubai International Airport (DXB), Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Dubai Downtown.

Joby’s aircraft is designed to carry a pilot and four passengers at up to 200mph/320kph. This would enable it to fly from DXB to Palm Jumeirah in just 10 minutes, compared with 45 minutes by road, for example.

The presence of a vertiport outside DXB’s Terminal 3, home of Emirates Airline, has led some to speculate that premium passengers flying into the airport could transfer to an eVTOL aircraft to get to their final destination.

Asked about this during an event in London in February, Emirates’ president Tim Clark said that while he was not involved in the discussions between the various parties, “If there’s an opportunity, then we’ll certainly be talking to them. But we’ll just watch and wait to see what happens.

“They’ve got a lot of testing to do yet.  I hope they’ve got all their performance calculations right, given the extreme temperatures out there in the summer.”

Meanwhile, another US eVTOL developer, Archer, has chosen Abu Dhabi’s Falcon Aviation as its vertiport infrastructure partner in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The aim is to use Archer's Midnight vehicle as soon as 2025.

The two companies will develop vertiports at Falcon Heliport at Atlantis, the Palm in Dubai and the Marina Mall heliport in Abu Dhabi’s Corniche.

The notoriously busy road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which can take two hours to negotiate, is an obvious route for an eVTOL aircraft, which could cut the journey time to 30 minutes.

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.