EA Maven, a leading consultancy in advanced air mobility, has undertaken an extensive study of UK cities to evaluate the feasibility of urban air mobility (UAM) services and the potential for new air routes within these urban areas, including those with city airports. By examining mobility data through a unique methodology, EA Maven has created the UK City Air Mobility (CAM) Index, which pinpoints a range of possible UAM routes across the UK.
The study began by considering 368 cities, each with at least 20,000 residents, leading to the assessment of over 40,000 potential routes. Initial data indicated a total addressable market of at least 9.8 million travellers per week, or over 470 million annually. A significant 80.3% of these travellers currently use road transport, contributing to carbon emissions, as other public transport options do not meet their needs.
EA Maven’s methodical approach to developing the CAM Index involved several key steps:
- Total journey analysis: The total number of journeys to and from the target cities within their catchment areas was analysed.
- Distance thresholds: A focus on UAM was maintained by setting distance thresholds between 50 and 120 statute miles, based on information from various eVTOL manufacturers.
- Indexing method: An indexing method was used to pinpoint the most viable routes for further analysis, considering factors such as travel time, cost, convenience, and around a dozen other factors affecting transport mode choice.
The study uncovered significant insights into the UK’s sub-regional air travel potential. After applying selection criteria, the number of cities considered dropped to 264, all within 50 to 120 statute miles and with populations over 20,000.
The indexing process identified 994 origin-destination pairs with a target market of 6.6 million travellers per week, or over 316 million annually. Of these travellers, 75% used road transport, with 33% being business travellers and 66% travelling for leisure. We believe business travellers are will be early adopters of UAM services due to the higher value of their time.
The study also estimated that travellers could save a total of 1.7 million hours per week, or 85 million hours per year, by switching to UAM. This equates to an annual saving of 9,700 years. The time saved could lead to a direct economic contribution of over £2.2bn ($2.7bn) to the UK economy, not including additional benefits from taxation, the aerospace supply chain, or secondary economic effects.
When focusing specially business travellers, the study found that 70% used cars, indicating a lack of suitable public transport options. On 475 routes, business travellers accounted for more than 30% of total travellers, and on 26 routes, they made up over 50% of travellers. This subgroup alone could add an additional £16m ($19.6m) in economic benefits through increased productivity.
EA Maven also analysed the potential benefits of UAM regionally. It found that in Scotland, a weekly economic benefit of £1.6m ($1.96m) was identified in the far north, with even greater benefits between Northern Ireland and Scotland, measured at £9.2m ($11.2m) per week.
Northern England saw benefits of £3.1m ($3.8m) per week, excluding direct connections to London and the Southeast.
Demand modelling and analysis
EA Maven’s demand modelling considers factors like service quality, frequency, and total travel time, using methods from other transport modes. This analysis helps predict market share, passenger traffic, and potential route revenue, providing insights into the possible shift from traditional transport to AAM services.
The study also determined the number of aircraft needed to meet potential demand, using a specialised scheduling package to optimise aircraft utilisation and frequency distribution. This approach provided valuable insights for airlines, airports, and investors, aiding in decision-making for route planning, fleet management, pricing strategies, and revenue projections.
A demand analysis for a route between two Northern Ireland cities estimated an annual demand of 474,000 passengers, requiring 44 four-seat eVTOL aircraft. This switch to UAM could save 1,200 tonnes of carbon emissions annually and generate over £50m ($61m) in revenue, with a local economic contribution of over £13m ($15.9m) through time savings alone.
Unlocking economic benefits
The introduction of advanced air mobility services offers significant economic advantages beyond direct financial gains. By saving time, air travel enhances efficiency and connectivity, leading to increased productivity, economic growth, and more efficient business operations.
A recording of the presentation of the CAM Index can be found on EA Maven’s homepage at the bottom with a copy of the presentation available on the publications page. A similar study on Regional Air Mobility between a subset of 32 airports is also available.
EA Maven will be releasing a study in the first quarter of 2024 outlining the total potential for AAM operations in the UK market. This will be the first detailed analysis of the potential of AAM operations in any country which is bankable.