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May 30, 2024
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Delta Airlines plans to launch eVTOL city-to-airport services in New York and Los Angeles together with Joby Aviation. More cities in the US and even the UK could follow later. Delta anticipates being the first to offer eVTOL services in the US, which should be in 2024-2025 if Joby is certified as planned. Delta deal with Joby gives it an edge in AAM market.

Contrary to other AAM manufacturers, Joby’s business model offers on-demand, aerial ridesharing services. The aircraft itself will be owned by Joby but operated on behalf of customers. Delta is believed to be the biggest customer now and possibly also the first, as Joby hasn’t shared any customer contracts so far.

Delta and Joby will develop seamless, zero-operating-emission, short-range journeys to and from city airports when booking Delta travel.” With the ‘Home-to-seat” service, customers get a premium service with simple booking and transits that offer them greater time savings compared to using ground transportation systems. The first airports that should see the Delta Joby services are New York LaGuardia and Los Angeles International, where Delta has recently made significant investments. Customers will benefit from Delta’s SkyMiles loyalty program and link to Joby’s app account.

The partnership is exclusive for a period of five years from the effective date until the fifth anniversary but is subject to mutually agreed renewal periods. It makes Delta the exclusive Part 121 airline partner of Joby in the US and the UK, although the exclusivity rights are subject to certain termination rights. Joby has to notify Delta if it intends to launch services in other markets, with Delta having the right to first negotiations.

Delta invests $60 million in Joby

Delta announced the news on October 11, although the so-called umbrella agreement with Joby was signed on October 7. This includes a $60 million equity investment from Delta in the advanced air mobility (AAM) start-up for eleven million common stock shares, with an option on another 12.8 million shares. Delta could raise its investment in Joby to $200 million once certain milestones are achieved. Delta will have to right to nominate a member of Joby’s Board of Directors, an SEC filing says.

Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt (left) and Delta CEO Ed Bastian confirm the agreement. (Rank Studios)

Delta and Joby target 1.000 passengers per day per airport, the agreement states: “Parties are targeting an “at scale” volume of 1.000 passengers per day per Priority Airport for the “Home to Seat” service.” The agreement also says: “The purpose of the Program is to provide Delta passengers with a seamless, end-to-end, premium “Home to Seat” service to and from Priority Airports and such other airports as the Parties may later agree with digital integration into Delta’s booking flow. In pursuit of such purpose, the Parties seek to develop a long-term strategic relationship, enabling a reliable and safe journey for “Home to Seat” passengers through deep operational collaboration in safety, security, maintenance, routing, flight operations, customer experience, customer care, and aviation technology.”

Joby is ahead of other AAM makers

Delta isn’t the first US major to announce an agreement with an AAM company. United Airlines has made a $10 million pre-delivery payment for 100 Archer Midnights and recently $15 million for 200 Eve’s plus option on another 200. American Airlines made a payment for fifty Vertical Aerospace VX4s in July. But these eVTOLs target certification in 2025-2026. Joby said in August it is progressing well with its roadmap towards certification in 2024, which would give Delta Airlines an edge over its rivals.

“Delta always looks forward and embraces opportunities to lead the future, and we’ve found in Joby a partner that shares our pioneering spirit and commitment to delivering innovative, seamless experiences that are better for our customers, their journeys, and our world,” CEO Ed Bastian says in a media statement. “This is a groundbreaking opportunity for Delta to deliver a time-saving, uniquely premium home-to-airport solution for customers in key markets we’ve been investing and innovating in for many years.”

The agreement can be terminated if Joby doesn’t achieve certification by December 31, 2026, or if the commercial launch hasn’t happened until a year later.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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