Air Asia is to lease a minimum of 100 of Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 from Avolon to create a ride sharing platform in Southeast Asia.

The non-binding memorandum of understanding will include the lease of a minimum of 100 VX4s, Vertical’s flagship electric aircraft.

Avolon, the world’s second largest aircraft lessor, pre-ordered 500 VX4s from Vertical to place with its global airline customers. The endorsement of the VX4 by AirAsia represents the aircraft’s first expansion into Southeast Asia. AirAsia joins Japan’s JAL and Brazil’s Gol in agreeing leases for a combined total of 450 VX4 with Avolon. Vertical has directly agreed pre-orders or pre-order options with American Airlines, Avolon, Virgin Atlantic, Iberojet, Bristow Group and Marubeni resulting in a pre-order book of up to 1,350 aircraft with a value of $5.4 bn.

VX4 will offer ridesharing at a “slight premium” to a taxi

The VX4 is a piloted four-passenger, zero operating emissions electric aircraft projected to fly at speeds of up to 200mph over a 100-mile range. The VX4 is expected to be near silent when in flight with a low cost per passenger mile. Vertical Aerospace has claimed it will be an affordable option for passengers with cost at a “slight premium” to a taxi.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO Vertical Aerospace, said: “We are delighted that AirAsia is the latest leading airline committing to lease our zero operating emissions VX4 aircraft. 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.”

Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, added: “Tony Fernandes is an aviation pioneer who has built AirAsia into one of the leading airlines in the world and has now also created Southeast Asia’s fastest growing Super App anchored on travel. We are delighted to partner with AirAsia who share our vision of revolutionising the future of air travel. 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.”

eVTOL will offer emission free ultra-short-haul travel in Southeast Asia

Tony Fernandes, CEO, Capital A, said: “Innovation has always been in our DNA and using technology to look at more efficient and sustainable ways of doing things is a core focus across Capital A (formerly AirAsia Group). We are now much more than just an airline with over 20 products and services on our super app leveraging off each other including flights, hotels, food, retail, delivery, ride hailing and more.”

“I am truly excited about this partnership between Avolon and AirAsia and the potential for zero emissions ultra-short-haul air travel in Southeast Asia. The digital era is now. In the VX4, we have identified what we believe will be the eVTOL aircraft of choice and we are thrilled to be the launch airline for the aircraft in Southeast Asia. We are also delighted to extend our long-standing relationship with Avolon, which has a proven track record of delivering for its customers and is in sync with our goal to become the leading one stop travel and delivery platform in Asean.”

Vertical recently announced that Leonardo would join its blue-chip partner ecosystem of aerospace, engineering and technology companies that Vertical has created to develop the VX4. The partner ecosystem also includes Rolls-Royce, Microsoft, Honeywell, GKN, and Solvay.

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