Air Chateau International, a private heliport operator in the UAE, intends to purchase up to 100 Midnight eVTOL aircraft from Archer Aviation in a deal worth $500 million. In a memorandum of understanding signed at the Dubai Airshow on November 16, Air Chateau agreed to send Archer a nonrefundable pre-delivery payment of $1 million by the end of December. According to Archer, it will work with Air Chateau over the coming months to “formalize the definitive agreements,” and it expects to receive another $4 million in pre-delivery payments after they seal the deal.
Archer’s Midnight is a piloted, four-passenger eVTOL aircraft that will initially serve routes connecting major airports and city centers. The California-based company plans to launch its first commercial air taxi routes in New York and Chicago in 2025, and it recently signaled its intent to bring the aircraft to international markets shortly thereafter. In October, the company partnered with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office with the goal of launching commercial air taxi services in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2026.
Air Chateau intends to operate Archer’s piloted, four-passenger eVTOL aircraft in Dubai and other locations in the UAE, where it is also working with partners to build more ground infrastructure for helicopters as well as future eVTOL air taxis. The helicopter operator has been running an eight-pad commercial heliport at the VIP terminal of Dubai World Central (DWC) Al Maktoum International Airport since 2021, and it is working to open the country's first off-airport commercial helicopter hangar in April 2024.
“Embarking on our journey into being an infrastructure provider two years ago for helicopters, today, we stand at the precipice of realizing our vision for the future of urban air mobility with eVTOLs in Dubai and across the UAE,” said Air Chateau founder and chairman Samir Mohamed.
At the MEBAA business aviation trade show in December 2022, Air Chateau signed an agreement with Swedish infrastructure start-up Kookiejar to develop a vertiport alongside the heliport and VIP lounge at DWC. During the Dubai Airshow this week, Kookiejar also partnered with Eve Air Mobility, Embraer’s urban air mobility division, to develop an urban air traffic management system in Dubai.