African national flag carrier Kenya Airways says it will continue diversifying its activity and income sources by rolling out air taxi services in 2025 – part of its efforts to develop next-generation urban air mobility (UAM) operations.
Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka said the company plans on testing air taxi flights in 2025, and hopes to initiate passenger service the same year or soon after. The activity will be overseen by its Fahari Aviation affiliate, which it launched as a dedicated unit for electric powered UAM activity. Initially Fahari focused on smaller drones, providing training and customer services in surveillance, agricultural, and surveying missions. Now it will be tasked with navigating Kenya Airways into the UAM future with air taxis.
“We are working on a future, 2025 onwards to see how we can support urban mobility,” Kilavuka said. “We are working to see how we can support urban air mobility.”
Once aircraft development and vertiport infrastructure are ready for use, Kenya may become one of the most compelling case studies for air taxi deployment in Africa. Roadways in the nation’s cities are notoriously saturated, with Nairobi an oft-cited example of the perpetual gridlock that is plaguing an increasing number of metropolises around the world.
The eventual launch of Kenya Airways into air taxi and other UAM services became a given last year, when the company initiated ties with Embraer’s Eve Urban Air Mobility unit. Last August Eve and Kenya Airways inked a deal to promote Fahari Aviation’s safe and secure UAM craft usage, establish its flight network, and work together on urban air traffic management and operation procedures.
“Partnerships are vital in mapping out the future of our airline, something which the global crisis has reinforced,” Kilavuka said when the deal was signed. “Innovation is a critical element of our long-term sustainability. “Fahari Aviation is at the forefront of exploring advanced technologies, with a key focus in aviation, starting with drone technology. With this partnership, we look to develop innovative air mobility solutions for our clients in Kenya and throughout the region.”
At the time of the signing, the two groups said use of air taxis from Nairobi’s airport to downtown will likely cut the usual 90-minute road commute down to a six-minute flight.