Oct 11, 2022 - Economy

Delta investing up to $200 million in air taxi startup Joby Aviation

The Joby aircraft poised for takeoff at the company's manufacturing and flight testing facility in Marina, California.

The Joby aircraft poised for takeoff at the company's Marina, Calif., facility. Photo courtesy of Joby

Delta Air Lines is partnering with Joby Aviation, a leading developer of electric air taxis, to make it easier and faster for customers to get to the airport.

Why it matters: The partnership is an extension of Delta's strategy to try to differentiate itself from other airlines by offering a more premium travel experience.

  • That includes investments in gleaming new terminals, lounges and digital technologies.

Driving the news: Delta is investing $60 million in Joby, and could invest up to $200 million total, as the partners meet major milestones in the rollout of a premium air taxi service shuttling passengers between airports and nearby communities.

  • The plan is to seamlessly integrate Joby's electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) service into Delta's existing flight booking process for travel to and from five cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and London.
  • The service will first launch in New York and Los Angeles, where the airline has recently unveiled new terminal transformations.
  • Joby will pursue its own, separate air taxi service in markets it has yet to identify but will likely include those two cities.

What they're saying: "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," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement.

What to watch: Joby is one of multiple companies developing eVTOLs as a faster, quieter, sustainable way to get around cities. It hopes to begin air taxi service in 2024.

  • For now, it is focused on obtaining Federal Aviation Administration certification for its aircraft, and then scaling production at a facility in California.
  • "This announcement starts to answer the question about what comes after — how to integrate with the trips people are already taking," Joby executive chairman Paul Sciarra tells Axios.

Separately, United Airlines recently paid $10 million to Joby rival Archer Aviation as part of a 2021 deal to purchase 100 eVTOLs.

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