Avolon agrees deal with Air Greenland for fleet of zero-emission aircraft

Battery-powered VX4 will carry four passengers as an alternative to travelling by car

Air Greenland has agreed to purchase or lease a fleet of zero-emission VX4 aircraft from Irish group Avolon.

The flag-carrier for Greenland and the Dublin-based aircraft lessor announced on Tuesday that they were to form a working group to assess the opportunity to commercialise zero-emissions air travel in the region.

The group will also collaborate to identify local infrastructure and certification requirements for the electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) aircraft, which Avolon has characterised as “flying taxis”.

The size of Air Greenland’s VX4 fleet will be determined at the conclusion of the working group’s assessment of the scale of the market opportunity.

The battery-powered VX4 will carry four passengers for distances of up to 160km as an alternative to travelling by car or other means. The aircraft emit no greenhouse gas, and are made by manufacturer Vertical Aerospace.

Avolon invested $15 million in Vertical last year. The Irish company joined Rolls-Royce, industrial group Honeywell, American Airlines and Microsoft as a backer.

Founded by Irishman Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical hopes to begin commercial production in 2024 after getting European Union Aviation Safety Agency certification.

Avolon ordered 500 VX4 aircraft valued at $2 billion from Vertical in June. Since then it has placed 250 with Gol and Grupo Comporte in Brazil, up to 100 with Japan Airlines, and a minimum of 100 with AirAsia. It has now placed up to 90 per cent of its initial order book.

Avolon chief executive Dómhnal Slattery said: “Since our initial order we have seen airlines all over the world make a commitment to the zero-emissions travel by selecting the VX4 aircraft as the first step in their decarbonisation journey.

“Today’s announcement with Air Greenland means we are taking zero-emissions travel to where climate change is having its most pronounced impact. We look forward to working with Air Greenland to bringing the zero-operating emission VX4 aircraft to where it matters the most.”

Sustainability

Jacob Nitter Sørensen, CEO of Air Greenland, said the announcement “marks the start of our long-term sustainability journey”.

“We are excited about bringing zero-emissions travel to our region,” he said. “In Greenland we see the effects of climate change every day, and as a company we want to be at the forefront of the climate revolution.

“The VX4 aircraft will have many uses for Air Greenland and, through our partnership with Avolon, we look forward to welcoming our first travellers on-board in the near future – flying our guests to Ilimanaq Lodge to show the visible impacts that climate change is having on our country and planet.”

Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, said: “We are delighted that Air Greenland has chosen the VX4 to bring zero-emissions air travel to the region. This partnership is a significant first step in introducing sustainable air mobility to Greenland.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter

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