Cologne/Bonn Air taxis haven’t been considered science fiction for some time now. Cologne/Bonn Airport is also already working on this idea and has now presented a feasibility study. What’s sure is that the conditions at the airport are favorable.
"We are looking at a vision of the future," said NRW Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst. And this is what the future could look like: After flying several thousand kilometers, passengers no longer get into a taxi and onto autobahns or inner-city streets that are often crowded. Instead, they take an air taxi to their destination. This may have sounded like science fiction a few years ago but the aircraft has already made its first flights. When Johan Vanneste, CEO of Cologne/Bonn Airport presented a study on air taxis together with Transport Minister Wüst on Wednesday, he gave not the slightest doubt that this means of transport is the future. "Air taxis will certainly come, albeit not for several years," said Vanneste. And he will be prepared.
Together with the Institute of Transportation Sciences at RWTH Aachen University, the airport has prepared a technical feasibility study. According to this study, Cologne/Bonn offers all the conditions necessary to become a hub for air taxis. According to the study, the airport has a sufficiently large catchment area that extends as far as the Ruhr area or the Benelux countries. And with twelve million passengers a year before the corona crisis, the airport also sees a sufficient number of customers. If only one percent of the passengers were to use the air taxi, that would mean 120,000 passengers for the small aircraft in a year. The air taxi can carry one to four passengers and the pilot.
Plenty of room for air taxis at Cologne/Bonn Airport
There would be ample space for the new aircraft to operate at the airport. Most likely, they would take off or land, park and recharge in parking lots 2 and 3. It is also probable that the air taxis could be integrated into the existing flight operations. However, Winfried Finkeldei, the airport's project manager responsible, said that further capacity analyses with air traffic control were still required.
There are other open questions as well, one of them having to do with permits for such an operation, as Wüst emphasized. The aircraft would probably be flown at low altitudes under visual flight conditions. Some of the residents along the route might not be too happy when they see 100 of these aircraft whizzing past their living rooms. Despite being electrically powered, they make noise because of the rotors. Of course, Wüst wants to consider these issues while the aircraft further develops. The NRW government has pledged its commitment to be open to new technology. And air taxis could solve traffic problems.
Cologne/Bonn Airport as transport hub for mixed modes of transportation
The study offers a basis on how transport could be organized in the future - especially if the providers of air taxis offer low prices and transport for everyone. It points out what could be possible, often based on presumptions such as the number of potential customers. Further research must be conducted before concrete plans are made. The study could, however, be a blueprint for the introduction of air taxis, says Vanneste - also for other airports. Cologne/Bonn has already sent the study to the Düsseldorf Airport staff.
Perhaps the use of air taxis is even more attractive for airports that are not as well connected to roads and trains. Vanneste emphasizes that Cologne/Bonn Airport sees itself as a transport hub that offers a variety of transport options. A new service would be welcome. "We want the air taxi as an additional and environmentally friendly service," underscores the airport CEO.
(Orig. text: Ralf Arenz, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)