AirAsia plans to lease at least 100 of Vertical Aerospace's VX4 eVTOL aircraft and deploy them for urban air mobility services in Southeast Asian cities. Under a non-binding memorandum of understanding signed on February 16 during the Singapore Airshow, the Malaysia-based airline will take the aircraft from a batch of 500 units ordered by leasing group Avolon in June 2021.
Through Avolon’s investment and innovation affiliate Avolon-e, the companies say, they will work together to launch commercial operations of the four-passenger eVTOL models, with passengers booking flights using the AirAsia app. They are to form a working group to pursue local approvals for the aircraft, conduct market research, and evaluate infrastructure requirements.
Last year, Ireland-based Avolon placed another 350 of the aircraft—which it expects to add to its portfolio in 2025—with Japan Air Lines and Brazilian carriers Gol and Grupo Comporte. The aircraft, which is set to complete type certification in 2024, is expected to have a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 200 mph. Other scheduled operators for UK-based Vertical's aircraft, including Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, and Iberojet, have also placed provisional orders, as have Japanese investment group Marubeni and helicopter operator Bristow.
“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,” commented AirAsia Aviation Group CEO Tony Fernandes. “I am truly excited about this partnership between Avolon and AirAsia and thrilled to be the launch airline for the aircraft in Southeast Asia.”