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American Airlines Focuses On Cleaner Electric Air Mobility

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  • American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ: AAL) plans to invest million in U.K.-based electric aircraft start-up Vertical Aerospace Group Ltd through private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction to reduce carbon emissions, enhance customer experience, and tap the flying taxi trend, the Wall Street Journal reports.

  • It plans to acquire around 250 Vertical’s planned flying taxis implying a potential pre-order commitment of $1 billion. There is an option to order an additional 100 aircrafts.

  • The electric aircraft can take off and land vertically like helicopters and move customers around congested cities to get to and from airports.

  • Vertical plans to conduct the first trial of its VA-X4 aircraft later in 2021.

  • Vertical’s aircraft will accommodate four passengers and a pilot and fly at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour with a range of over 100 miles.

  • Vertical aims to begin commercial operations in 2024 upon the European regulatory approval.

  • Vertical aimed to go public via SPAC (special-purpose acquisition company) merger that valued the combined entity at $2.2 billion. Honeywell International Inc (NASDAQ: HON), Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (OTC: RLLCF) (OTC: RYCEF) (OTC: RYCEY), and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) venture capital fund feature amongst Vertical’s backers.

  • Embraer SA (NYSE: ERJ) is in talks to combine its air-taxi arm with a SPAC and announced a deal to sell up to 200 of its flying taxis for the U.K. market.

  • Aircraft leasing company, Avolon, has agreed to pre-order up to 310 aircraft from Vertical with an option for an additional 190.

  • Virgin Atlantic has options to acquire 50 - 150 aircraft.

  • Vertical will work with AAL on passenger operations and developing infrastructure in the U.S. and explore a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic in the UK.

  • In February, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: UAL) announced plans to back another electric flying taxi start-up and acquire around 200 of its aircraft. UAL disclosed its venture-capital fund to invest in early-stage technologies that furthered its sustainability goals.

  • Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) continued its investment in flying taxis to possibly displace existing urban helicopters and reduce noise and carbon emissions.

  • The $54 billion in government aid for airline workers’ salaries and benefits brought some respite to the pandemic-stricken industry in 2020. WSJ notes that AAL entered the pandemic with higher debt than its rivals and lost $8.89 billion in 2020.

  • Price action: AAL shares traded higher by 0.51% at $23.58 in the premarket session on the last check Friday.

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