Archer, United Airlines choose Newark-to-Manhattan route as the first for Archer’s air taxis

Flights could beat ground transportation times by at least 30 minutes

Archer Aviation and United Airlines plans to shuttle passengers on 10-minute flights between Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in New York aboard electric air taxis starting in 2025, the companies announced Thursday. 

 California-based Archer plans to unveil a mockup of the aircraft that will fly the routes during an “open house” on Nov. 16 at its test flight facility. FAA has yet to certify the aircraft, called Midnight, and its operations, but Archer is optimistic about its position in the fierce competition to be first to fly passengers aboard electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft in the United States.

“We’re confident that we’ll be one of — if not the — first to market in the U.S.,” Archer said in an emailed statement. “We will be investing significantly in community education and awareness to foster acceptance and understanding of what eVTOLs are and how they will benefit the city’s transportation system.” 

Joby Aviation, another California-based electric air taxi developer, had been planning to launch operations in 2024, but Joby said Nov. 2 that FAA rule changes and other factors had delayed its launch to 2025.

 Archer believes the Newark-Manhattan route is the first announced for such an aircraft. 

 The distance is about 14 kilometers as the crow flies, or 22 kilometers on the shortest highway route. By contrast, commuters often spend 40 minutes to an hour in a car on the same route, according to Archer.

Pricing wasn’t announced, but Archer believes the cost will be comparable to what Uber and Lyft charge for the same service, which was about $54 on a recent Wednesday afternoon.

 The same route is served today by New York-based Blade Urban Air Mobility, which chose to begin its service with fossil-fuel-powered helicopters, for $195, according to Blade’s online booking service.

 The Newark airport is one of United’s hubs, and the company intends to allow passengers to book Archer connecting flights at the same time they book their seat on a commercial jetliner. The airline has paid a $10 million pre-delivery payment for 100 of Archer’s aircraft.

 “We’re excited to be confirming New York as the first of many routes we’ll be announcing alongside United as we work to build out our national UAM (Urban Air Mobility) network,” Archer said in a news release. 

 The route “drastically reduces the travel time and produces a fraction of the sound emitted by helicopters,” United said.

 Archer said its early routes will be from airports to city centers, which it calls “trunk routes.” Once those are established, the company intends to add branch routes.

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Archer, United Airlines choose Newark-to-Manhattan route as the first for Archer’s air taxis