A sky-high commuter hub headed for Dubai

This city-wide electric air taxi service is scheduled for lift-off in 2026, ushering in a new era of urban transportation.

A sky-high commuter hub headed for Dubai
source: Joby Aviation

Taking a giant leap into the future of sustainable transport, Dubai plans to be the first to offer a city-wide commercial electric air taxi service.

To achieve this, the Road and Transport Authority of Dubai has signed an agreement with UK-based ‘vertiport’ infrastructure developer Skyports and all-electric aircraft company Joby Aviation, with commercial passenger air taxi services expected to launch in 2026. 

Vertiports are transport hubs that provide takeoff and landing spaces for electric air taxis – also known as eVTOLs – to connect transport hubs, retail zones and tourist attractions. 

Air taxi eVTOL technology is considered a sustainable alternative to traditional modes of transportation, and it is hoped that in addition to reducing carbon emissions, the new service will also ease traffic congestion in densely populated areas.

The Dubai project represents the first time that a transport authority, vertiport operator, aircraft manufacturer and relevant regulatory bodies have partnered in this way, according to Skyports.

Their agreement was signed this month at the World Governments Summit in Dubai, giving Skyports exclusive rights to design, build and operate vertiports in the Emirate. Joby Aviation will in turn operate the eVTOL air taxis and Dubai’s transport authority will oversee and regulate the service. 

"The strategic positioning of our vertiports in key locations across Dubai will enhance connectivity and provide a faster travel option for residents and visitors."

The industry has never been closer to making commercial air taxi services a reality, Duncan Walker, founder and CEO of Skyports says.

“The strategic positioning of our vertiports in key locations across Dubai will enhance connectivity and provide a faster travel option for residents and visitors. With the Definitive Agreement signed, now begins the exciting part: designing and building our vertiports.”

Joby Aviation, which has developed the aircraft, was the first manufacturer to complete the second stage in the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) certification process last year for its aircraft and the company says it is now close to completing the third of five stages, with the focus now on the fourth stage, where testing and analysis of the aircraft’s components and systems will occur.

It has been proposed that four vertiports will link the city and its transport hubs including locations close to Dubai International Airport, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Downtown and Dubai Marina. According to Skyports, detailed studies are complete for each location, with architectural design for the first phase of development underway.

A vertiport commuter service is also being investigated for use at the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. France's Groupe ADP is collaborating with Germany's AutoFlight to conduct experimental flights of its eVTOLs during the games at Pontoise Vertiport.

The tech
Electric Air taxis, also known as eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing), are being developed by numerous startups and traditional aviation manufacturers around the world to provide an eco-friendly aerial transportation option for urban locations. Resembling drone-style helicopters, they employ electric propulsion systems powered by batteries or fuel cells that enable vertical takeoff and landing without the need for long runways. Onboard sensors and computer algorithms manage navigation and stabilisation. By shifting swiftly between vertical to horizontal flight, eVTOL aircraft can cover longer distances at higher speeds, boosting their range.