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Thursday, May 23, 2024

United Airlines seeks to launch commercial flying taxi service in Chicago within 2 years

United Airlines seeks to launch commercial flying taxi service in Chicago within 2 years

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft taxi service projected to cost about as much as an Uber Black trip from Vertiport Chicago to O'Hare International Airport

A flying taxi service is coming to Chicago in 2025, courtesy of United Airlines and Archer Aviation.

The two companies on Thursday announced plans to launch the first air taxi route in the city, using Archer's electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to transport residents between O'Hare International Airport (ORD) and downtown Vertiport Chicago.

Passengers will be able to travel from downtown to the airport on Archer's Midnight aircraft in approximately 10 minutes, dodging traffic at rush hour.

"Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonizing air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry," said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures. "Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport."

The announcement comes after United Airlines agreed to purchase up to 200 of Archer's flying taxies last year in a $1 billion deal. The airline aims to transport travelers to the airport quickly, safely, and ideally with minimal environmental impact.

Archer's Midnight aircraft will be able to carry up to four United customers at a time, transporting them as far as 100 miles at speeds as fast as 150 miles per hour.


Chicago was selected as the starting point for United's new taxi service because the city is a center for business, innovation and investment, as well as the home of United's headquarters, according to a news release.

"Both Archer and United are committed to decarbonizing air travel and leveraging innovative technologies to deliver on the promise of the electrification of the aviation industry," said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures. "Once operational, we’re excited to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and cost-effective mode of transportation during their commutes to the airport."

Archer Aviation's "Midnight" electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft has a range of 100 miles and can travel at speeds up to 150 miles per hour.


The plan is for launch routes to focus on transporting passengers back and forth between the airport and city center transportation service, referred to as "trunk" routes. Once these routes have been established, United intends to build out "branch" routes to surrounding communities in the greater Chicago area.

"Technological innovation thrives here in Chicago, and this venture between Archer and United is yet another example of this strength," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "This exciting new technology will further decarbonize our means of transportation, taking us another step forward in our fight against climate change. I'm pleased that Chicago residents will be among the first in the nation to experience this innovative, convenient form of travel."

O'Hare International Airport in Chicago will be the first destination point for United Airline's innovative electric air taxi service, coming in 2025. 


Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker praised the plan as a "bold step" towards transitioning the state to 100% clean energy by 2050.

"I can’t think of a better team than Archer and United to partner with as we work to ensure our existing aviation infrastructure can support this new and exciting form of transportation," the governor said.

But how much will the trip cost?

An Archer spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times they hope to make prices competitive with Uber Black, at an estimated fare of about $100 for the trip from Vertiport to O'Hare.

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