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United and Archer Aviation Announce Plans for Air Taxi Service in Chicago

A new route between Chicago O'Hare and Vertiport Chicago, using Archer Aviation's Midnight eVTOL aircraft, is set to launch in 2025

by Fergus Cole

March 27, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Archer Aviation

United Airlines and Archer Aviation have announced plans to launch the first commercial air taxi service in Chicago in 2025.

A joint announcement was made by the two companies last Thursday, which outlined their plans to launch Chicago’s first-ever flying taxi route for commercial passengers.

The proposed route will transport passengers between Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Vertiport Chicago—North America’s largest heliport—near the city’s downtown area.

Photo: Courtesy of Chicago O’Hare Airport

The companies claim that the new service, which will use Archer Aviation’s Midnight electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, will cut the journey time between Chicago’s principal airport to downtown from over an hour during peak rush hour times to around ten minutes.

The announcement of the new service comes just months after United agreed to purchase 100 aircraft from Archer Aviation in a deal worth up to $1 billion. The Chicago-based carrier claims that Archer’s state-of-the-art flying taxis will transport passengers across the city in a quick, safe, and environmentally-friendly manner.

Archer’s Midnight eVTOL aircraft can carry up to four passengers at one time, cover distances of up to 100 miles, and reach speeds of up to 150 miles per hour.

Although tickets aren’t yet on sale and prices haven’t yet been confirmed, a spokesperson for Archer claimed that customers could expect to pay around $100 for a trip, providing competition to premium shuttle services such as Uber Black.

“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.”

Using Chicago as the first location for United’s commercial air taxi service makes sense because the carrier is headquartered there and is an important center for business and innovation. In addition, once the initial route between O’Hare and Vertiport Chicago has been launched, United and Archer hope to establish more ‘branch’ routes to other destinations serving 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 Lori E. Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago. “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.”

Hall of Flags at Chicago O’Hare International Airport / Photo: Rosamar/Shutterstock

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker also welcomed the announcement of the new route, who claimed the service is an essential step in the state’s transition to a net-zero economy.

“Here in Illinois, we are taking bold steps to lead the clean revolution – paving the way for a more sustainable future for our state, our nation, and our world,” said Pritzker. “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.

“This partnership is just another way that we will achieve our goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2050 – all while saving Illinoisans money and creating thousands of good paying jobs in the process.”