• Wed. May 12th, 2021

Why Florida residents may soon be seeing jet-powered ‘flying taxis’

ByASNF

Nov 6, 2020

Florida is renowned for its strange news stories. In recent weeks alone, one resident reported an alligator in her garage that turned out to be a pool floatie; another discovered a python in her washing machine; and a horse needed to be pulled out of a septic tank by firefighters.

Still, don’t dismiss Orlando residents who report seeing flying taxis overhead because they may just be coming. Lilium Aviation, a five-year-old, Munich, Germany-based startup that designs and makes electric vertical take-off and landing jets, is reportedly seeking tax incentives from the city to build a 56,000-square-foot transportation hub with the promise that it will create 100 high-wage jobs in return.

According to the Orlando Business Sentinel, the proposed facility — a takeoff and landing area that would be part of Lilium’s first transportation network in the U.S. — would represent a $25 million investment and, according to the city’s own estimates, generate $1.7 million in economic impact in a 10-year period. (Lilium in September began separately exploring with Germany’s Düsseldorf Airport and Cologne Bonn Airport  how to turn the two airports into regional air mobility hubs.)

It’s probably a smart time for Lillium — whose planes aren’t expected to be up and running until 2025 — to be talking with cities about additional airport revenue. Passenger traffic has fallen through the floor, owing to the pandemic, and cargo traffic has not been immune, either. Meanwhile, 95{652344f324e607afb926ee4e256931fddd7f2413ab8be67a07ff8f3969f7c7a6} of revenue from airports comes aeronautical and non-aeronautical services.

Lilium also has a little more spending money, after raising $35 million in fresh funding in June led by Baillie Gifford, the largest investor in Tesla, a round that brought the company’s total funding to date to $375 million.

Earlier investors in the company include Atomico, Tencent Holdings and Freigeist.

We sat down with Atomico founder Niklas Zennström in late 2016 when the firm had just led a €10 million Series A in Lilium, a bet that seemed early at the time despite the existence already of rivals like Terrafugia and AeroMobile, yet that may be a reality fairly soon.

Indeed, there are now at least 15 flying ‘cars’ and ‘taxis” in development.

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