Dubai Airport to Palm Jumeirah in 10 mins: Air taxis expected to launch in 2026, cut travel time

With top speeds of 320 km/hr, air taxis in the UAE could cut travel time between Dubai Airport and Palm Jumeirah from 30-45 minutes to 10 minutes. That is according to Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of the Public Transport Agency at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.

“With the speed, range and limited charging time, these vehicles can take passengers from Dubai Airport to the vertiport in Palm Jumeirah in 10 minutes or less,” he said.

He also added that the aircraft was suitable for taking passengers between the different emirates. “The good thing is that these aircrafts have a good range,” he said. “This allows us to do inter-emirates trips potentially. So there are exciting plans but initially we will be operating on Dubai routes.”

The first-of-its kind, ambitious air taxi project is a three-way partnership between Skyports that is building the vertiports for the taxis to land in, Joby, the aircraft operator and the RTA, that will manage the entire operation. At the World Governments Summit (WGS) 2024, definitive agreements were signed between all three parties, taking the project one step closer to reality.

According to Ahmed, the project will be launched in 2026 to the public. “The idea is that in 2026, we will be launching our first service with six air taxis here in Dubai,” he said. “It is a new service, maybe the first in the world at the time. There is a lot to learn. We will gauge the demand and see what people are looking for.”

He said the RTA will provide end-to-end service at the vertiport. “We control all the mobility services,” he said. “So we will make sure the vertiport is linked to the metro station. We will potentially be providing a limo service. That will be an end-to-end service.”

The aircraft

A model of the Joby aircraft was on display at the WGS. With four passenger seats and one seat in the front, the aircraft will initially be driven by a pilot. “Eventually it could become driverless as well,” said Ahmed. Running on electric energy, the aircraft will take just 10 minutes to recharge between flights and will have minimal emissions.

JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby revealed that flight testing will be done in the UAE starting next year. “The goal is to begin testing in early 2025,” he said. “Our target is to launch the commercial service in 2026.”

The aircraft has been flight tested in the US since 2017 and is currently undergoing safety certifications by the Federal Aviation Administration. “It has a speed of up to 320 km/hr and can go on trips of up to 160 kms,” he said.

Minimal wait time

The process of getting into the air taxis will be zero touch, according to Duncan Walker, CEO and co-founder of Skyports. “You should be able to walk through,” he said. “No need for any tickets or passports. Straight through security using biometrics.”

The vertiports where the air taxis will park will be just like an airport but minus the waiting time. “The terminals will be very high tech and have places to catch a bite or drink,” he said. “What it will not have is the waiting times of airport. This is a service to save time. It will be really efficient and will only take a minute or two to get to the air taxi.”

Work on the vertiports will begin in June this year. The space needed to build them has been allocated and the company has been conducting baseline research. “The one located at Dubai airport is going to be a real hub for us,” he said. “We have started airspace survey, getting the electricity in and we will start building the first one in June this year. It will be ready end of 2025.”

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