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UK Coventry goes “nuts in May”, ground-breaking event to catapult public’s understanding of UAM

By Chris Stonor

May will be an extremely exciting time in the UK for those interested in a “green and decarbonised aviation”. Coventry is the must place to be. The public are welcome “to be amazed and dazed” by this future-present.

Urban-Air Port, the UK-based developer of ground infrastructure for air taxis and autonomous delivery drones, is the primary instigator behind the event (April 28th-May 15th) led by its pioneering Founder and Chairman, Ricky Sandhu.

Ricky Sandhu

Sandhu typifies the up-and-coming UK entrepreneur. After a distinguished 20-year career in architecture, including 16 years as equity partner with award-winning architecture & design practice Foster & Partners, he saw a vision. A future of eVTOLs and drones flying in the skies that required a new type of airport for craft to take off from and land. An airport that could be easily and quickly constructed, while not requiring too much space within an urban area.

Sandhu came up with his Urban-Air Port idea, a version of a vertiport. His website states, “It is an ultra-compact, rapidly deployable, multi-functional operations hub for manned and unmanned vehicles providing aircraft command and control, charging/refuelling, cargo and passenger loading and other mission specific facilities.”

The forward and green-thinking Coventry City Council agreed to host and assist in constructing such an example for the public to view, leading to this 18-day futurists’ dream. Sandhu has not only attracted UK Government sponsorship and backing, but the global motor giant, Hyundai, who is moving into the eVTOL market with its own Supernal Aircraft.

Sandhu says the Urban-Air Port on display (also known as Air-One) will form a blueprint for over 200 similar sites planned across the world in the next five years as air taxis and autonomous delivery drones become a reality.

Outside Air-One

He commented, “Once complete, the Air-One will spark into life an entirely new world of affordable, zero-emission and congestion-free travel. However, this is not just about getting from A to B, it’s about the journey itself. The Air-One will deliver a world-class interactive customer experience.”

This week various business partnerships including food and beverage (F&B) companies were announced for the Coventry event.

They include:-

: Compass Group

: Anatomie

: Bottegie S.P.A

: Mother

: Paul & Shark

: LG Business Solutions

The all-new consumer offering will fall under the company’s retail and F&B brand, ‘Urban-Air Choice’.

Retail Space

Sandhu continued, “The partnerships announced with some of the biggest brands in retail and F&B and the investment made by them to participate in the launch of Air-One, represent a huge vote of confidence in our future vision and the opportunities it will bring for consumers and brands alike.”

Urban-Air Port has a clear vision to unlock a future “lifestyle retail experience” that integrates retail effortlessly into travellers’ physical journey from A to B via a unifying smartphone app.

This single app will enable travellers to plan their journey, engage with brands associated with Urban-Air Choice and seamlessly integrate with other forms of transport. For example, someone could rent an e-scooter, travel to an Urban-Air Port, take an air taxi across a city, order a coffee on route and have it waiting at an Urban-Air Café at their destination, all controlled from the palm of their hand.

The urban air mobility (UAM) market is forecast to grow by 9 percent annually, reaching USD1 trillion in the next 20 years. Commercial flights are expected to begin this decade, including Supernal’s flying taxi which enters commercial operations in 2028.

According to research company, McKinsey, some flight operators could see passenger numbers reach 70,000 per day as early as 2030, while Urban-Air Port predicts its global passenger numbers could reach up to 28 million a year in the next five years, creating an enormous new market for retail and F&B, that will be worth millions of dollars (US) for brands and partners as the network of Urban-Air Ports expands. Vertiports will provide the essential ground infrastructure to support this new market.

 Air-One at Sea

The press release describes the Air-One as, “A fraction of the size of a traditional airport terminal. It will create a unique retail experience by exposing consumers to brands in novel and engaging ways, such as interactive screens and virtual/augmented reality technology, rather than permanent bricks and mortar shops.”

It goes on, “The approach enables brands to remain agile, hosting interactive campaign-specific content at opportune times, rather than expensive long-term shop fronts. This enables them to engage the right audiences, with the right messages, in the right place at the right time.”

All brands and products will also be accessible through Urban-Air Port’s app, meaning the retail experience extends further than just the customers’ visit to the physical site. Consumers then have the option to order products directly to their homes or even have them delivered via drone to their local Urban-Air Port or CityBox drone delivery hub or ready to be ‘vended’ by Mother’s smart vending machines using a collection code.

This vision is being spearheaded by two leaders in the travel retail and F&B industry. Keith Hunter, Chief Retail Officer and Nicholas Goddard-Palmer, Chief Hospitality Officer. Both come with impressive retail pedigrees.

Keith Hunter and Nicholas Goddard-Palmer

Hunter commented, “There is an opportunity to develop an entirely novel consumer experience, an experience that allows people to interact with brands and services like never before through our app and continues that experience beyond the terminal.”

He continued, “This gives our customers absolute flexibility and control over every aspect of their journey and any services they require, perfectly complementing their lifestyle needs. It’s a phenomenal opportunity for consumers and brands alike.”

Goddard-Palmer, added, “Coventry is just the start. With the support of our new brand partners, it gives us the platform to showcase what can be delivered in this new forum and opens the door for a whole new world of retail and F&B by creating unique experiences across the Urban-Air Choice suite of services, which is key to the delivery of our non-aeronautical strategy.”

From April 28th to 15th May, Air One will be open to the public, with tours provided by the Urban-Air Port team. Updates can be found on:-

UAP’s LinkedIn channel

www.urbanairport.com

Footnote

Leaving aside all the razzamatazz, another event hosted by CIVATAglobal, is going ahead at Coventry on May 10th/11th.