Delta Air Lines is making a $60 million investment in eVTOL aircraft developer Joby as part of a deal that is expected to lead to the launch of what the companies call “home-to-airport transportation” for airline passengers. Services are expected to begin in New York City and Los Angeles, with the four-passenger aircraft to be operated by Joby and Delta’s customers having access to a “seamless booking” service that could also be offered in the UK.
Under an agreement announced on October 11, Delta will make a further $140 million investment in Joby subject to further unspecified “milestones” being achieved. The partners did not say when services will begin, but Joby is aiming to complete FAA type certification for its aircraft in 2024.
The statement indicated that the deal “will deliver a differentiated service for Delta customers alongside Joby’s standard airport service.” It also refers to the provision of “simplified transit” but does not explain whether this will involve offering car service to vertiports for the onward eVTOL flight to Delta’s hub airports.
The partnership will be “mutually exclusive” for five years, with an option to extend this period.
Joby’s aircraft is expected to have a range of 150 miles and fly at speeds up to 200 mph. The FAA has already granted the California-based company its G-1 (Stage 4) certification basis approval and also a Part 135 air carrier certification, which allows it to operate commercial flights.
“Delta is differentiating and amplifying the customer experience with premium products, choices, and solutions across the journey,” said Allison Ausband, the airline’s executive vice president and chief customer experience officer. “Addressing what matters to our customers is foundational to our focus, and our work with Joby is the latest in a series of ways we’re making the experience of travel more seamless, enjoyable, and wait-free.”
By comparison with rivals such as American Airlines, United Air Lines, and Virgin Atlantic, Delta has been relatively quiet about its intentions in the advanced air mobility sector until now. In March 2022, the carrier did sign a memorandum of understanding to participate in Airbus's plans to develop hydrogen-powered airliners by the mid-2030s.