National carrier Kenya Airways(KQ) is set to buy 40 flying taxis from two Brazilian firms in a diversification move through its new subsidiary Fahari Aviation. Each taxi is estimated to cost at least Ksh327 million.
KQ has already signed a letter of intent (LOI) with EVE UAM, LLC, a subsidiary of Eve Holding, Inc. and a carve-out of Embraer S.A. to develop an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market.
The taxis known as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft have the ability to take off and land vertically making them ideal for cities congested with traffic jams.
“The journey to realise the dream of eVTOL vehicles in Kenya is on course and the partnership with EVE UAM is a key achievement for us as part of the strategy to adopt new technologies as a growth strategy for the sustainable development of Africa,” Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said.
KQ is yet to make a financial commitment to acquire the eVTOLs, with Kivaluka indicating that the financial commitment will only be made after the feasibility study.
“It is an LOI but we need to do the joint study first so no financial commitment for now. We have not acquired the vehicles it is an LOI,” he said.
The vehicles can be used for taxi services, parcel delivery, medical assistance and recreation.
Airlines that have already ordered the eVVTOLs include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and planes lessor, Avalon Holdings, with the pre-orders reaching 1,000 in June 2021.
The Embraer spinoff Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions has signed contracts with 17 companies for 1,735 orders of its aircraft, valued at $5 billion (Sh568 billion) as of January 2022.