United to fly electric air taxis to O’Hare beginning in 2025

The first route is planned between the airport and the Illinois Medical District.

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An electric air taxi made by Archer Aviation.

United plans to offer air tax service between O’Hare Airport and the Illinois Medical District beginning in 2025.


Hate the traffic between O’Hare Airport and downtown? Want an alternative to taking the L?

Beginning in 2025, you’ll have a new way to get to and from the airport: An electric air taxi. The trip between O’Hare and the Illinois Medical District is expected to take about 10 minutes, according to California-based Archer Aviation, which is partnering with United Airlines. The companies announced the service Thursday.

The air taxis are expected to land at Vertiport Chicago, 1339 S. Wood St. The facility is billed as “Chicago’s only full-service downtown heliport.”

The price? An Archer spokesman said they hope to make the fare competitive with Uber Black, a ride-hailing service that provides luxury vehicles and top-rated drivers to customers. On Thursday afternoon, an Uber Black ride from for Vertiport to O’Hare was $101.

The air taxi seats four passengers and a pilot. The taxis are being built at Archer’s Covington, Georgia, facility, which is expected to be able to produce about 650 taxis annually, according to the company. The aircraft has a range of 100 miles and can fly up to 150 mph.

“Technological innovation thrives here in Chicago, and this venture between Archer and United is yet another example of this strength,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “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.”

Archer had few details Thursday about possibly expanding air taxi routes, but said in a news release that “the next step will be to build out ‘branch’ routes to connect to surrounding communities.”

“We’re thrilled to add Chicago to our growing list of initial launch cities as we continue to solidify our [Urban Air Mobility] network plans,” Adam Goldstein, Archer’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to working with state and city leaders to bring an innovative transportation solution to the city of Chicago and its surrounding communities.”

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday the agency is working on certifying electrical vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

“Safety will dictate the certification timeline, but we could see these aircraft in the skies by 2024 or 2025,” the FAA said in a statement.

The air taxi plan isn’t the first proposed alternative to rail and automobile between downtown and O’Hare. In 2018, Elon Musk and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a Musk-owned enterprise, The Boring Co., had been selected for a project that would have had electric vehicles carrying passengers through underground tunnels at high speed. The project was later scrapped.

Contributing: Associated Press

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