Paris city councillors oppose air taxi service plans


Plans to integrate air tax services into a public transport system for the first time have been unanimously opposed by Paris city councillors. 

Aéroports de Paris (ADP) group, along with German manufacturer Volocopter and the Ile-de-France region announced the launch earlier this year to trial flying taxis in Paris during the 2024 Olympic Games. However members of the Conseil de Paris have rejected the plans as “absurd”.

Despite opposition plans may still go ahead. The Ministry of Transport is set to make a final decision at the beginning of next year. 

The intention is to run the flying taxis during the Olympics, offering a shuttle services with five aircraft around the city at a price of €110 per person. The connection routes would be: Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport and Paris-Le Bourget airport, Austerlitz vertiport barge and Paris Heliport, and Paris Heliport and Airfield of Saint-Cyr-l’École (Versailles). Operations will begin from five vertiports and could grow to cover the whole Paris region over the next decade, said Volocopter. 

Parisien councillors have described the project as an “ecological aberration”. Dan Lert, deputy mayor, said the plans were “a totally useless, hyper-polluting gimmick for a few ultra-privileged people in a hurry”.

Parti Socialiste councillor Florian Sitbon added: “To save a few minutes for a few wealthy people in a hurry, who are ignorant and contemptuous of the climate emergency, we would be polluting the atmosphere and destroying the sound environment.”

Changer Paris councillor, Claire de Clermont-Tonnerre added: “The consumption of these flying machines, nearly 190 kWh per 100 km, is two to three times higher than that of a combustion-powered car to transport a single passenger.”

Elsewhere, the Autorité environnementale française has already expressed reservations. The authority said an impact study for an experimental vertiport on the Seine at the quai du port d’Austerlitz was “incomplete”. 

In addition to the transport ministry’s final decision, the project also rests on a successful EASA certification for the VoloCity, Volocopter’s eVTOL aircraft. This is expected in Spring 2024. 

However, certification could potentially be delayed due to an issue in securing the electric motors Volocopter needs for its commercially-ready aircraft. The undisclosed engine OEM has experienced delays, said Volocopter CEO, Dirk Hoke in October. Working with the engine maker Volocopter is continuing test flights with other, less-refined motors as it seeks to obtain certification, he added. The VoloCity has 18 motors, each of them weighing just less than 8kg.

“The first motors we are supposed to fly with are delayed, but we will find a way to catch up,” Hoke explained. “The best-case scenario is, we will fly with a commercial operation, and the fallback is that we fly with a special permit [from EASA at the Olympics].”