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American Airlines to pre-pay for 50 air taxis from Vertical Aerospace

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July 15 (Reuters) - Air taxi maker Vertical Aerospace said on Friday that American Airlines Group Inc has agreed to make pre-delivery payments for 50 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, lifting its shares as much as 71%.

Last year, American Airlines had agreed to pre-order up to 250 of UK-based Vertical's eVTOL aircraft in a $1 billion deal, with an option to buy a 100 more.

Vertical's VA-X4 aircraft can carry four passengers and a pilot. It can fly at speeds of more than 200 mph over a range of above 100 miles.

The deal reflects growing interest in battery-powered aircraft that can take off and land vertically, offering a new way for travelers to beat traffic and hop between cities.

Vertical Aerospace had last year reported pre-orders for up to 1,350 aircraft worth $5 billion from customers including American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

U.S.-listed shares of Vertical were last up 52% at $4.43 in afternoon trade.

(Reporting by Kannaki Deka in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)