Archer Aviation and United Airlines have announced a partnership to establish a commercial air taxi route in Chicago, set to open in 2025. The flight path will connect downtown Chicago with O’Hare International Airport, significantly reducing travel time for commuters.
O’Hare International Airport is not only United’s headquarters and largest hub but also an ideal testbed for flying taxis due to the long commute times between the airport and downtown. The drive to or from O’Hare, situated in the western suburb of Rosemont, can take anywhere from 35 minutes to over an hour, depending on traffic. Even using the city’s elevated trains, the journey can take around 45 minutes. In contrast, Archer estimates that its air taxis will only require 10 minutes to travel between O’Hare and a downtown helipad.
The program will initially focus on the primary O’Hare/downtown route, with plans to expand to smaller routes serving surrounding communities. Archer has described the upcoming air taxi service as “cost-competitive” for passengers, although specific pricing details have not been disclosed. While the service may initially cater to business travelers with deeper pockets, the environmental benefits are noteworthy. Archer’s air taxis employ electric motors and batteries, producing zero emissions.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lauded the initiative, stating that “this exciting new technology will further decarbonize our means of transportation, taking us another step forward in our fight against climate change.” She expressed her pleasure that Chicago residents would be among the first in the nation to experience this innovative and convenient form of travel.
United Airlines has shown a strong commitment to investing in flying taxis. Last year, the airline ordered at least 200 electric flying taxis from Eve Air Mobility and placed a $10 million deposit with Archer the previous month. In addition to ground-based taxis and rideshares, Chicago boasts an extensive public transportation system consisting of elevated trains and buses. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has pledged to convert its bus fleet to electric by 2040, with 23 electric buses already in operation.
If the air taxi initiative proceeds as planned, it could significantly reduce emissions and traffic congestion in Chicago, a prospect that many residents will undoubtedly welcome.