United Airlines invested $15 million in Eve Air Mobility and placed a conditional purchase agreement for 200 four-seat electric aircraft plus 200 options calling for first deliveries as early as 2026, the Chicago-based carrier said Thursday. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies intend to work on future projects, including studies on the development, use, and application of Eve’s aircraft and the so-called urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem.
The latest commitment by United comes less than a month after it placed a $10 million deposit on 100 eVTOL aircraft with Archer Aviation. The airline in February 2021 signed a provisional agreement with Archer to buy up to 200 of its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft in a deal valued at $1 billion. At the time, Archer said the pre-delivery payment represented one of the first of its kind in the nascent eVTOL industry following announcements by several manufacturers of provisional sales that appear unsupported by any type of formal payment schedule or deposit.
“United has made early investments in several cutting-edge technologies at all levels of the supply chain, staking out our position as a leader in aviation sustainability and innovation,” said United Airlines Ventures president Michael Leskinen. “Today, United is making history again, by becoming the first major airline to publicly invest in two eVTOL companies. Our agreement with Eve highlights our confidence in the urban air mobility market and serves as another important benchmark toward our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 — without using traditional offsets.”
United became the first major U.S. airline to create a corporate venture fund with the establishment of United Airlines Ventures (UAV), established to support the company’s commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050 without the use of traditional offsets. Through UAV, United claims a leadership position in investments in eVTOL and electric aircraft, hydrogen fuel cell engines, and sustainable aviation fuel.
United says its confidence in the growth opportunities in the UAM market and Eve’s unique relationship with Embraer partly drove its investment in the eVTOL developer. The Eve-Embraer relationship allows for access to the Brazilian manufacturer’s service centers, parts warehouses, and field service technicians. United expects Eve’s service and support operations to support its entire eVTOL fleet. Meanwhile, United joins the consortium led by Eve established to simulate UAM operations in Chicago starting on September 12.
“United's investment in Eve reinforces the trust in our products and services and strengthens our position in the North American market,” said Eve co-CEO Andre Stein.“I am confident that our UAM agnostic solutions, coupled with the global know-how we have been developing at Eve and Embraer’s heritage, are the best fit for this initiative, giving United’s customers a quick, economical and sustainable way to get to its hub airports and commute in dense urban environments. It is an unparalleled opportunity to work with United to advance the U.S. UAM ecosystem, and we look forward to it.”
Eve Holdings came into being in May with the business combination between Embraer and special purpose acquisition company Zanite, enshrined with a public listing on the New York Stock Exchange that generated $377 million in proceeds. Under the terms of the deal, Embraer now holds a 90 percent stake in the eVTOL aircraft developer while Zanite shareholders and several other investors control the balance.