• The UK has just opened the world’s first urban airport.
  • Electric drones and air taxis will be able to use the new port in Coventry.
  • It’s planned to be the first of hundreds of city-centre zero-emission airports.

The world’s first airport for electric drones and flying cars just opened in the centre of a city in the UK. If it’s a success, it will be the blueprint for hundreds more around the world.

The pop-up Air-One has been built in the city of Coventry. It’s designed for zero-emission electric drones and air taxis and the airport itself is powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

An aerial view of an urban airport
Ready for take-off: the UK just opened the first airport for electric planes and drones.
Image: Urban Air-Port

The project is the result of a partnership between Coventry City Council and UK start-up Urban-Air Port Ltd to demonstrate the potential of urban air mobility to cut congestion and air pollution.

Hyundai’s air mobility arm has even sent along a full-size model of its SA-1 air taxi which will be on show at the airport. Urban-Air Port says that the lack of suitable infrastructure is one of the biggest obstacles to the development of electric vertical take off (eVTOL) aircraft.

Mobility

What is the World Economic Forum doing about mobility?

Mobility systems must be resilient, safe, inclusive, responsive, and sustainable. This is why #WeAllMove, a mobility service match-making platform, launched April 2020 by Wunder Mobility in partnership with the World Economic Forum COVID Action Platform. The platform highlights the importance of leveraging multi-stakeholder collaboration across governments, providers, commuters and more

#WeAllMove consolidates information about a variety of mobility options available in any city, from mode share, to ride share and transit. The independent platform, co-hosted by mobility providers operating globally, will integrate private, public and joint mobility services into a single search and output engine, ensuring a better “new mobility normal” can be forged, regardless of the crisis ahead.

Since its launch April 2020, it has grown to include 130 mobility service providers offering tailored services in over 300 cities and 40 countries. By bringing public and private stakeholders together, the platform can ensure business continuity for an array of mobility providers, and help secure jobs and services that depend on mobility.

A pop-up airport

Air-One is designed to be fully autonomous and to integrate with electric vehicles to create a completely sustainable public transport network. It’s also easy to build. The whole project in Coventry took just 15 months from planning to completion.

A view of a drone at an urban airport
Air-One will be dismantled later this year and toured around the UK.
Image: Hyundai

Describing the opening as a momentous moment, Ricky Sandhu, founder of Urban-Air Port, said it was the start of “a new age of transport, an age of zero-emission, congestion-free travel between and within cities that will make people healthier, happier and more connected.”

The future of urban transport

Researchers say the market for advanced air mobility could reach $12.4 billion worldwide by 2027.

Air-One will be open to the public throughout summer 2022 and then Urban-Air Port plans to dismantle it and move it to other sites in the UK so that more people can see the concept in action. While the Coventry site is open there will be demonstration flights by police and freight drones.

Sandhu plans to open more than 200 “vertiports” worldwide, with planning already under way at sites in London, Los Angeles, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia and South East Asia.

“Cars have roads. Trains have rails. Planes have airports. Now, eVTOLs have an Urban-Air Port,” he said.