Infrastructure group Ferrovial is to build a network of 25 vertiports across the UK in partnership with eVTOL aircraft developer Vertical Aerospace. The facilities will be designed to support operations with Vertical’s four-passenger VA-X4 eVTOL, including Virgin Atlantic Airways’ plans to launch scheduled domestic services on routes of up to around 100 miles.
The October 28 announcement came a day after UK-based Vertical confirmed that it has raised an additional $205 million from Mudrick Capital and Kouros. Combined with the $94 million already committed by investors as part of the start-up’s public investment in private equity (PIPE)-based merger and flotation with Broadstone Acquisition, the company said it has now raised more than the $250 million it estimates it will need to certify the all-electric aircraft in 2024.
Ferrovial will now agree on locations and a design for the vertiports with Vertical. The Spain-based construction and infrastructure management group is already developing a network of vertiports in Florida with rival eVTOL aircraft manufacturer and operator Lilium.
Earlier this week, Vertical announced a collaboration with London Heathrow Airport to assess plans to integrate eVTOL air taxi operations with existing airline services at the UK’s main hub. One of the sample routes proposed by Vertical would connect the city of Cambridge with Heathrow, replacing a drive of at least 90 minutes with a 28-minute flight in the piloted VA-X4 at speeds of up to 200 mph.
Among the practical issues that will need to be resolved is whether eVTOL flights would arrive airside or landside at airports, with direct access to airside potentially providing even greater time savings for travelers. Neither Vertical nor Ferrovial has indicated whether the planned vertiports will be available for use by other eVTOL manufacturers and operators.
Ferrovial invests in, develops, and operates some 33 airports worldwide. In the UK, it is a shareholder in Heathrow, as well as Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Southampton airports.
“The partnership between vertiports and eVTOLs will provide high-speed, affordable, emissions-free travel to millions of people,” said Ferrovial Vertiports CEO Kevin Cox. “This network will boost local economies with a new model of regional connectivity.”
Vertical holds provisional orders for 1,350 of its aircraft from customers including Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, lessor Avolon, helicopter group Bristow, Iberojet, and Japan’s Marubeni group. It says these commitments are worth $5.4 billion in prospective revenues, implying a base price of $4 million for the VA-X4.
Of the $205 million in further investments announced this week, $200 million has come from Mudrick Capital through convertible secured notes. The remaining $5 million comes from Kouros as a direct investment in the PIPE, which is already backed by investors including American Airlines, Honeywell, Microsoft M12, Rolls-Royce, and 40North.
“Vertical is on the right side of the movement towards net zero, cutting carbon by reducing reliance on short-haul flights and other modes of transport,” commented Mudrick Capital founder and CEO Jason Mudrick. “This is essential and it is a key consideration in our investment.”