France’s Groupe ADP, the public company that manages all of Paris’s airports, is moving to broaden its more recent activities in vertiport development through a deal to create infrastructure for air taxis and other electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in Abu Dhabi.
Groupe ADP said it signed a memorandum of understanding with government officials during this month’s Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2022. The accord calls for Groupe ADP to work with local authorities in the planning, design, development, and operation of vertiport infrastructure for future eVTOL services in Abu Dhabi.
The French company will begin by consulting with likely stakeholders in the Gulf nation’s next-generation air transport activities, and undertake a feasibility study and market assessment to produce an industrial and operational roadmap for their development.
Its prospecting for vertiport business in Abu Dhabi, the wider Middle East, and elsewhere in the world flows from Groupe ADP’s central role in creating infrastructure for eVTOL air taxi flights slated for introduction in Paris when it hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics.
To prepare for that, Groupe ADP has been a leading participant in the operation of the Cergy-Pontoise airfield northwest of Paris, which has been partially converted to serve as a test vertiport hosting both eVTOL and traditional aircraft.
As part of that, the company has been working with sector leaders like Skyports, Volocopter, and specialists in uncrewed traffic management systems, which together recently conducted a successful battery of test scenarios involving conflicting movements of older and emerging aircraft.
The effort to secure vertiport development business in Abu Dhabi is a sign Groupe ADP does not intend to limit its activities in eVTOL infrastructure construction and management to its domestic French market. In doing so it’s likely to replicate the internationalization model of its passenger airport unit, which oversees 28 commercial plane platforms in 13 countries, serving over 234.5 million passengers annually.
Abu Dhabi’s embrace of advanced air mobility (AAM) technology is an example of what many sector observers believe will be a flourishing Middle East market for eVTOL companies and vertiport developers like Groupe ADP. Just last month Saudi Arabia’s national airline said it was buying 100 craft from German manufacturer Volocopter to establish an air taxi network in the country.
Gaining an early anchoring in Abu Dhabi, therefore, may prove critical to Groupe ADP eVTOL vertiport business across the region.
“We are proud to enter this partnership with Abu Dhabi Airports to collaborate on building the AAM roadmap and accelerating the development of the necessary infrastructure in Abu Dhabi,” said Philippe Martinet, managing director of Groupe ADP airport services. “With our hands-on experience in the Paris region today, and our deep understanding of the industry, its infrastructure and operational challenges, we will be supporting Abu Dhabi Airports in laying the ground for AAM service implementation in Abu Dhabi.”
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