Saudia joins the eVTOL race signing MoU with Lilium
On 26 October it was announced Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier Saudia, formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lilium. Lilium is an electric air taxi developer. The airline is the latest to join the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) rush which has seen the likes of Delta and United airlines investing in the environmentally friendly aircrafts.
Lilium are a German air taxi start-up established in 2015. The company are striving to become a global leader in air mobility. Composed of over 800 employees, Lilium are working to develop sustainable, high-speed regional air mobility aircrafts. The Lilium Jet is the world’s first eVTOL Landing Jet, boasting zero operating emissions and able to operate without large scale ground infrastructure.
What is the deal?
Saudia have signed an MoU to develop a network of eVTOL aircraft operations across Saudi Arabia. This MoU states Saudi’s intentions to purchase 100 of Lilium’s eVTOL aircrafts. The network will enable “new electric point-to-point connections as well as seamless feeder connections to Saudia’s hubs for business class guests.”
The jets are all-electric, offering a green and time-saving form of transport between hubs.
The significance of the partnership
The agreement makes Saudia the first airline in the Middle East/North Africa region to purchase Lilium’s eVTOLs. Where the race for eVTOLs is already underway internationally, see previous articles on Delta and United, the partnership demonstrates a commitment to environmental initiatives by the airline. Other eVTOL companies have also been making inroads within the region, with China’s XPeng holding the first public demonstration flight of its X2 “flying car” in Dubai.
Speaking about the partnership Captain Ibrahim S. Koshy, CEO Saudia said:
“Saudia, building on its commitment to be an industry leading airline committed to sustainability, consider our eVTOL network project with Lilium to be an undertaking of great significance for the Kingdom’s aviation industry and will contribute effectively to spurring sustainable tourism in Saudi using zero-emission aviation. Saudia intends to meet a growing demand for regional air mobility and offer our valued guests a superior on-board experience. The potential for such an airborne transit network is limitless.”
Lilium already has some smaller scale deals with European customers including ASL Group, Helity Copter Airlines, and AAP Aviation Group. However, the partnership marks a significant opportunity for Lilium in terms of regulatory progress. It is expected that Saudia will assist the start-up with the required regulatory approval processes in Saudia Arabia. The start-up will also be able to draw on Saudi’s wide pool of knowledge acquired from operating services to over 100 domestic and international destinations.
Article by Jess Brownlow