International Passenger Flights on Electric Planes are Coming to Europe This Summer

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Bookings are now open for the first publicly available international electric flights in Europe — but the trips come with a few pre-departure caveats.

An early taste of zero-emissions air travel is coming to European skies this summer – and it’s available to book from just €120 ($129).

During a two-month trial period, members of the public will be able to travel on electric flights between select airports in Europe. Notably, all of the journeys are international, with airfields in three countries taking part. 

Trips are available to book now for travel between July 1 and August 31. They will serve Liège Airport in Belgium, Maastricht Aachen Airport in the Netherlands, and Germany’s Aachen-Merzbrück Airport. Flight times between the locations range from 16 to 26 minutes.

What’s the Catch?

As you might expect with such a futuristic project, there are a few caveats.

Unlike regular commercial flights, the journeys will be operated by very small two-seater aircraft. With one of the two seats occupied by the pilot, it leaves just a single spot for a passenger. Given the modest dimensions of the Pipistrel Velis Electro plane, absolutely no luggage can be taken onboard.

With size a critical factor, passengers will also have to provide their body weight ahead of departure. For safety reasons, the pilot and passenger cannot weigh more than a total of 178 kilograms (392 lbs).

Who is Behind the Project?

As well as the three airports, the Electrifly collaboration partners also include the Aachen University of Applied Sciences, aviation operator ASL Group, and Chinese electric car company NIO.

According to the consortium, the wider goal is to present a vision of the future of so-called ‘eAviation’. In time, it is hoped that passengers will be able to connect between European hubs using low or zero-emission electric aircraft.

How Pioneering Is the Concept?

Electrifly is not the world’s first electric aircraft operator. However, it does lay claim to being the first to fly passengers cross-border on an electric plane. 

A single trip costs €120 ($129), with a return journey available for €160 ($171). The price is based on a cost-sharing model, where flights operate between private individuals. This means the cost of the specific flight is pooled between the pilot and the passenger.

The concept of making the flights available to the public is innovative, however, the aircraft itself has been around for several years. In 2020, the Pipistrel Velis Electro was certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, making it the only electric plane currently approved by the regulator.

As Skift has previously reported, there are multiple projects underway globally that hope to use hybrid or all-electric aircraft. This includes ambitious proposals in Dubai that could see a new generation of vertical take-off and landing aircraft take flight as soon as next year.

What About Getting to the Airport?

On the ground, NIO vehicles will help deliver the promise of “door-to-door electric transportation.” Passengers within a 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) radius of the airport will be collected and transferred to the aircraft by a fleet of electric cars. A map of the area is available here. 

An Electrify spokesperson told Skift that at the end of the two-month summer trial, the findings will be evaluated. This in turn will help inform “new tests and pilots with other circumstances or equipment.” 

The organization confirmed that no programs beyond the July and August trials are currently scheduled.

Despite the limitations, Jonas van Stekelenburg, CEO of Maastricht Aachen Airport, described the project as “a glimpse into the future of aviation.” He added that it represented an “open invitation” to use the site as a test-bed for next-generation technology.

Prospective passengers interested in getting on board can visit the Electrifly website to make a booking.

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