Airports in Rome, Venice, Bologna, and France’s Cote d’Azur have joined forces to create Urban Blue, a company for the international development of infrastructure supporting urban air mobility (UAM).
Connections between airports and dense urban centers are expected to be a promising early use case for the new generation of electric air taxis now in development. Urban Blue plans to leverage its existing expertise in aviation infrastructure management to design, build, and manage vertiports for these eVTOL aircraft.
Urban Blue has already teamed up with the German eVTOL developer Volocopter as it conducts an initial phase of technical and economic feasibility studies prior to pursuing vertiport construction. Volocopter will be displaying its VoloCity air taxi in Rome this week and next in conjunction with Urban Blue founding partner Aeroporti di Roma, which is targeting the launch of eVTOL operations in 2024.
Two other founding partners, Aeroporto di Venezia and Aeroports de la Cote d’Azur, also expect to open vertiports in the same timeframe. The fourth partner, Aeroporto Guglielmo Marconi di Bologna, did not commit to a particular launch date but said it plans to “fully seize and exploit” the opportunity represented by Urban Blue.
According to Aeroporti di Roma CEO Marco Troncone, “the development of urban air mobility is part of our strategy of strong acceleration on innovation and sustainability and allows us to further enhance our infrastructures development and management skills.
“We are working in synergy with all the stakeholders and industrial partners to design the ground structures within the overall ecosystem, aiming at the operational start-up of this service with a challenging but possible timeline, to allow Rome to be among the first cities in Europe to activate this kind of connections,” he said in a press release.
Volocopter chief commercial officer Christian Bauer added: “Urban air mobility can only work with the necessary ecosystem around it. A renowned infrastructure partner like Aeroporti di Roma creating a company like Urban Blue that will build vertiports, the take-off and landing infrastructure, plays an integral part in bringing electric air mobility to cities.”
Urban Blue will be supported by EDF Invest, shareholder of Aeroports de la Cote d’Azur. The company said it will be open to new industrial, technological, and financial partners for the progressive expansion of UAM in various geographic areas, in addition to Italy and France.