Your commute to the airport could become faster and more sustainable in the coming years—if you’re willing to get there via a small, all-electric aircraft.
Delta just announced a new partnership with Joby, an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft company, to offer short, commuter flights to the airport. Joby would shuttle Delta passengers between major city centers and the airport in the electric air taxi, which looks like a cross between a helicopter and a prop plane.
“This is a groundbreaking opportunity for Delta to deliver a time-saving, uniquely premium home-to-airport solution for customers in key markets we’ve been investing and innovating in for many years,” stated Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian.
Initially, the program would be limited to New York City and Los Angeles and is expected to launch sometime during 2024. Delta has not yet said how much the service would cost passengers, though when it’s ready for rollout, customers will be able to add the electric air shuttle to their itinerary when they book on Delta’s website. It’s also not yet clear where the air taxis would pick up passengers.
While the details are still fairly vague, it’s yet another example of airlines increasing their efforts to offer more sustainable air travel alternatives—so far Delta has invested $60 million in Joby out of a potential $200 million. In May 2022, Hawaiian Airlines announced a partnership with Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport, a Boston-based company that makes electric-powered seagliders, hoping to add the low-flying seagliders to its interisland fleet as early as 2028. United also announced in July 2021 that it is buying 100 19-seater, zero-emission electric planes from Swedish startup Heart Aerospace to be used on quick flights within the United States by 2026.
The airlines industry is investing heavily in carbon-reducing technologies and innovations, including electric vehicles, as it works toward its pledge to be at net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Currently, air travel accounts for about 3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.