Rome airport readies for flying taxis by 2024


A prototype of an electrical air taxi by German company Volocopter is seen during a presentation at the Fiumicino airport, in Rome, Italy, October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME (Reuters) - Passengers flying into Rome from 2024 onwards will be able to go airborne for their taxi ride into the city centre too, if a project between the company operating its main airport and a German startup lifts off on schedule.

Startup Volocopter hopes to make Fiumicino Airport a pioneer site for the rotor-bladed, battery-powered two-seater air taxi it is developing.

Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) CEO Marco Troncone said the journey in one of the craft, which takes off and lands vertically, will take around 15 minutes, compared with 45 minutes or more by car.

The initial cost of a ride will be around 150 euros ($175), a price likely to drop as the service goes mainstream, he said.

"The connection will be very swift," he told Reuters at Fiumicino, where Volocopter was showcasing a prototype. "It will be a silent journey and ... the level of emissions will be zero."

Volocopter, founded in 2011, hopes to get a commercial air licence from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) within three years and then start operations, its Chief Commercial Officer Christian Bauer said.

Rome is seen as the third most suitable European city behind Paris - where Volocopter said in June it hoped to have a service in operation in time for the Olympic Games - and Berlin for the development of air taxis, an EASA study showed.

($1 = 0.8593 euros)

(Reporting by Francesco Zecchini; editing by Agnieszka Flak and John Stonestreet)

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