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Business News/ Companies / News/  Archer to join IndiGo, ride-hailing apps to expand reach of electric air taxis
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Archer to join IndiGo, ride-hailing apps to expand reach of electric air taxis

In Nov 2023, Rahul Bhatia-backed InterGlobe signed a memorandum of understanding with Archer Aviation to launch and operate an all-electric air taxi service in India.

California-based Archer Aviation was set up in 2018 and is developing electric air taxis that have a range of around 100 miles at a speed of up to 240 km per hour. (Reuters)Premium
California-based Archer Aviation was set up in 2018 and is developing electric air taxis that have a range of around 100 miles at a speed of up to 240 km per hour. (Reuters)

InterGlobe, the largest shareholder of IndiGo, is expected to form a joint venture with Archer Aviation this year and launch electric air taxis in India in 2026, a top executive told Mint. The company also said that it will partner with IndiGo, Ola, and Uber to expand its reach in the country.

“We're in the process of establishing a joint venture with InterGlobe," Archer Aviation founder and chief executive officer Adam Goldstein said in an interview. “We are looking to launch (air taxis) somewhere, say, early 2026 or middle of 2026."

California-based Archer Aviation was set up in 2018 and is developing electric air taxis that have a range of around 100 miles at a speed of up to 240 km per hour. United Airlines is one of the foremost partners for Archer and has already ordered 200 electric air taxis and both are working on assessing viable routes for the taxis.

Goldstein said that the company expects to receive certification from US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration by the end of 2025 and launch in India “right after that."

In Nov 2023, Rahul Bhatia-backed InterGlobe signed a memorandum of understanding with Archer Aviation to launch and operate an all-electric air taxi service in India, subject to appropriate regulatory approvals and clearances.

The partnership also plans to finance the purchase of up to 200 of Archer’s Midnight aircraft for the India operations.

Read more: InterGlobe Enterprises ties up with US-based Archer for air taxi service

Archer’s Midnight aircraft is a piloted, four-passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft designed to perform rapid back-to-back flights with minimal charge time between flights. Under the plan, an InterGlobe-Archer flight could fly the 27-km trip from Connaught Place in Delhi to Gurugram, that takes 60 to 90 minutes by car, in about 7 minutes. The electric air taxi cab trip is expected to cost 2,000 while a car trip costs about 1,500, as per Archer.

“We see a big opportunity to go work with IndiGo on the aviation side," Nikhil Goel, chief commercial officer at Archer, said. So IndiGo is an airline that knows the market like no one else in the country and they also understand the price that attracts Indians. Plus, they have the network. "I think Rahul is a special person and offers a special opportunity for us to do that." 

The two parties will also look for opportunities to use the electric aircraft in cargo, logistics, medical and emergency services, as well as private company and charter services in India, as per the MoU.

"That JV will work on several things. One is it's going to acquire 200 aircraft. Over time, we envision India could have thousands of aircraft. And then, we'll find ways to work with IndiGo, whether that's on operations or on flight," he said.

"IndiGo flies in and out of 200 airports around the country. It's got millions of passengers. Those passengers are looking to go to and from the airport. So, we'll inevitably work on ways to go figure out how to partner together on distribution," he added.

Recently, Archer had announced plans to set up a factory in Georgia, which will be inaugurated this year and will have the capability to produce 650 air taxis per year. The company aims to increase the output capacity to 2,000 air taxis per year.

“We view the market as having huge potential, especially in India, one of the largest markets globally. There certainly could be potential to bring manufacturing locally here. We've partnered with Stellantis, a large automotive OEM. There are specific points of interest where we already know there's demand and willingness to pay. We can see that through rideshare. There are already people using Uber and Ola, among other rideshare programmes," he said. This will become an alternative that can get people to their destinations faster.

In order to further scale up operations, the company is also looking to engage with ride-sharing platforms, including Uber and Ola, for greater reach.

Such partnerships will have the benefit of distribution and provide a combination of connectivity solutions which will include both air and road connectivity to provide the first mile and the last mile connectivity, he said.

"The goal is to become a mass form of transportation where everybody can take it and the cost becomes, you know, the same as car ownership. And so, just even the top 20 cities, if we put 10 aircraft in each city, that's already 200 aircraft. That's what we've talked about with IndiGo," Goldstein said.

"We want India to be one of the most or, even, the most important market(s)," he added.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Naman Suri
Naman is a skilled business journalist who excels in breaking down complex financial details. He specializes in the corporate sector, providing thorough coverage of the pharmaceutical industry, the dynamic field of sports business, and the fascinating area of white-collar crime. Naman has a knack for making sense of numbers and presenting them in an understandable way.
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Published: 19 Apr 2024, 06:49 PM IST
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