Munich Airport International steps into the world of Urban-Air Ports
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Last month, Urban-Air Port (UAP) announced a collaboration with Munich Airport International (MAI) which its says will enhance the development of the ground infrastructure and airport operations to handle electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. In Spring 2022, UAP will unveil the world’s first fully-operational hub for future eVOTL (electrical vertical take-off and landing) aircraft – known as Urban-Air Port Air One – in Coventry, UK. Its design will form a blueprint for 65 new Urban-Air Ports, which will be developed in partnership with UAP partner Hyundai, which is at the forefront of eVOTL aircraft development. The Moodie Davitt Report’s Senior Business Editor Mark Lane discusses what the new link up with MAI means for unlocking the potential for sustainable urban air mobility, the development of these Urban-Air Ports and integrating traditional airports with the travel of the future with UAP Founder and Executive Chairman Ricky Sandhu.
Why is this link up with Munich Airport International (MAI) a landmark moment in the Urban-Air Port story?
Ricky Sandhu: It is a landmark for the industry as the first tie-up between an urban airport mobility (UAM) infrastructure provider and a major international airport operator. It shows operators are looking at UAM seriously and starting to work out how it can be best implemented. For Urban-Air Port specifically, we are of course happy that our first announcement is with a five-star operator such as MAI, which we hope reflects well on how the large traditional industry players view us, and our prospects going forward.
How did the association come about?
MAI requested to meet us in early 2021 to discuss what we were doing. It was clear from the very beginning that we shared a common approach and similar business climate, maybe even a common raison d’être. We were able to meet in person after the restrictions were lifted and verbally finalised a framework for our cooperation (over some Bavarian beers, which is the best way).
Urban-Air Port Founder and Executive Chairman Ricky Sandhu: Solid path to expansion
“For Urban-Air Port we are in discussions with numerous airport operators, but we would be happy to talk to any airport, from anywhere in the world. We would love to tell your readers about how we can build UAP infrastructure into their operations and expand their operations into our smart cities of the future.”
Urban-Air Port Founder and Executive Chairman Ricky Sandhu
What can you tell us about what MAI will contribute to the partnership?
It is twofold really. Firstly, how together can we best discover and develop the way that UAM infrastructure can be operated, both individually in say a city centre site and also as part of an existing airport operation. And secondly, to work together to spread UAM operations around the world and operate the networks of the near future.
A view of the interior of an Urban-Air Port, which will include lounge areas, retail, food & beverage and conference facilities
Why do you think Urban-Air Port (and your plans for urban mobility) in particular appeals to an airport company of this high standing?
We have always tried to communicate that our laser-focus is to develop the infrastructure to its absolute pinnacle in terms of design and functionality. Everything that we are doing is done with that in mind. We feel that we have considered all of the factors and concerns that a potential customer will have and have addressed, and as much as possible, solved. We are a technology-driven solution, not a traditional aviation solution. Urban-Air Port uniquely creates a three-dimensional airfield that delivers a big capacity solution, but that is also compact. The fact that this is now being recognised by a company of MAI’s standing is confirmation of that and we are already working with additional partners of equal prominence which we will be glad to announce in the future. Our other main focus is on emissions reduction and creating ‘clean air through design’ to support not just the UK Government, but the global effort to tackle climate issues and attain net zero targets. MAI shares this philosophy and has already taken huge steps with their pro-environment strategy. Joining forces with us is just another positive step on the journey towards zero emission flights.
An impression of how the very first Urban-Air Port will look. It will be known as Air One and opens in Coventry, UK next Spring.
Where do traditional airports fit in with the whole urban mobility eVTOL concept, and your wider plans for Urban-Air Port?
It is no surprise that airports will be early adopters of UAM and the huge possibilities that eVTOL will bring. They are of course important parts of our future city networks and the ‘airport shuttle’ application for eVTOL is attractive in many cases as existing options for airport transfer are less than perfect in many cities. For Urban-Air Port we are in discussions with numerous airport operators, but we would be happy to talk to any airport, from anywhere in the world. We would love to tell your readers about how we can build UAP infrastructure into their operations and expand their operations into our smart cities of the future.
Do you now aim to partner with additional airports/airport operators? Could we see you eventually working partnership with multiple international airports?
Yes, this is just the first of what will be many similar announcements. UAM offers traditional airports and airport operators a huge opportunity to build back stronger from the pandemic and lead the way in the next revolution in flight.
A new commercial avenue: Urban-Air Ports are attracting great interest from F&B operators, retailers and brands
We have talked before about how Urban-Air Ports give rise to many commercial opportunities involving brands, retailers and F&B companies. What’s the latest news on how this side of the business is developing?
Since we last spoke, interest in UAP has really ramped up, and so it is encouraging that we will be potentially working with some very high-profile brands, exciting start-up brands, world-class operators, and fresh thinking collaborators. It has been fun to throw out the rule book of a traditional airport commercial conversation, as we are so open and flexible to work with each partner more closely, so that we can all get the best out of our physical and digital space. We are currently in active discussions with multiple retail brands, F&B operators, and service providers about their potential involvement in our Urban-Air Port Air One Coventry launch early next year. This will give them the opportunity to showcase their latest products and initiatives, or advertise within and around the facility, or sponsor all/part of the event in front of hundreds of VIPs invited to the three-week launch event. Additionally, we have already started discussions with businesses and brands who wish to be one of our UAP partners in our future full commercial launch, post 2024. Our digital ecosystem is very exciting, and we are calling on all brands to consider joining our platform. Through our app and lounge design and content, Urban-Air Port enables partners to connect with customers before, during, and after their visit, showcasing experiences where relevant, but giving ultimate control of ‘what’, ‘when’, and ‘where’ to the user at all times. Read our recent in-depth interview with Ricky Sandhu on the potential for Urban-Air Ports and the commercial opportunities that will arise from them here.
The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 303 | 17 November 2021
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