Avolon, AirAsia sign deal for 100 Vertical  VX4 eVTOL aircraft

Vertical VX4 eVTOL

International aircraft leasing company Avolon has announced an accord with the AirAsia Aviation Group involving 100 VX4 eVTOL aircraft made by UK company Vertical Aerospace.

In a statement Wednesday, Avolon said the memorandum of understanding covered the leasing of at least 100 Vertical VX4 eVTOL craft by AirAsia, which is occurring under its fleet and operational modernization. The craft may be flown on appropriate existing routes, but are especially intended to enable entirely new short- and medium-range urban air mobility (UAM) services by AirAsia.

Those vehicles will come from a $2 billion order Avolon made last June for 500 VX4s, at least half of which are contracted for lease to Gol and Grupo Comporte in Brazil. Japan Airlines has similarly committed to up to 100 of the vehicles, which along with the AirAsia accord covers 90% of Avolon’s future VX4 fleet.

Vertical says the piloted, four-passenger VX4 eVTOL craft will operate at speeds of up to 200 mph over a maximum 100-mile range. The emissions-free vehicle is touted to be nearly silent in flight and boasts a low per-passenger-mile cost that will limit prices for air taxi use close to those of existing ground options. The company is already working with Heathrow Airport on potential UAM services between the hub and central London locations.

Vertical has directly agreed to pre-orders or pre-order options of 1,350 craft ­­– representing $5.4 billion ­­– with clients including American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Iberojet, Bristow Group, Marubeni, and of course Avolon.

In addition to supplying the aircraft to AirAsia, Avolon says this week’s deal also involves its innovation affiliate partnering with the airline to develop a UAM platform serving Southeast Asia nations. To that end, the two companies will form a working group to pursue local certification, research potential market opportunities, and study infrastructure requirements. 

Avolon CEO Dómhnal Slattery celebrated the agreement as offering the company the opportunity to work with acclaimed Malaysian entrepreneur and AirAsia co-founder Tony Fernandes.

“We are delighted to partner with AirAsia, who share our vision of revolutionizing the future of air travel,” Slattery said. “We look forward to working with Tony and the AirAsia team on their eVTOL journey. Together we will develop a ride sharing platform and bring the zero-emissions VX4 aircraft into service, positioning AirAsia as the operator of choice for sustainable air travel in the region.”

Though not a direct participant in the Avolon-AirAsia agreement, Vertical applauded the deal as another vote of confidence for its eVTOL VX4.

“We are delighted that AirAsia is the latest leading airline committing to lease our zero operating emissions VX4 aircraft,” said Vertical CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick. “AirAsia provides many fantastic opportunities to travel around some of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world, and I am thrilled that we will be bringing zero emissions flight to people all across Asia.”

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