From downtown to O’Hare International Airport in a few minutes? Neither Uber nor CTA can do this, but it seems that soon Chicago residents will have another mode of transport for such trips.
On Thursday, it was announced about the possibility of using advanced technologies to reduce travel time.
United Airlines is teaming up with Archer Aviation to provide air taxi services between O’Hare International Airport and West Loop starting in 2025. This innovation becomes even more relevant if we take into account the many years of repair work on the Kennedy Expressway, which will lead to serious delays in road traffic and increase travel time to and from the airport.
United and Archer plan to launch the city’s first air taxi route between O’Hare and Vertiport Chicago on the Near West Side near Pilsen and Illinois Medical District, offering 10-minute trips between the airport and downtown.
“Both Archer and United are committed to the principle of carbon—free air travel and the use of innovative technologies to fulfill the promises of electrification of the aviation industry,” said Michael Leskinen, president of United Airlines Ventures. “After the launch, we are pleased to offer our customers a more sustainable, convenient and economical mode of transport during their trips to the airport.”
The taxi service will use Archer’s new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) Midnight aircraft, capable of carrying four passengers and a pilot. Archer is working with the FAA on the certification of Midnight aircraft and plans to complete it by the end of 2024.
United and Archer have already teamed up to organize a similar air taxi service between the helipad in midtown Manhattan and Newark Liberty International Airport in 2025.
ComEd will also work with United and Archer to build the infrastructure needed to power eVTOL. The two-year delay before the scheduled start of service in both Chicago and New York is due to the fact that the electric aircraft does not yet have a flight permit.
“By law, we are working with the FAA to try to get this certificate as soon as possible,” said Brian Bernhard of Archer Aviation.
As for the estimated cost of such a trip, Archer did not answer specifically, but compared it with the cost of Uber Black. During rush hour from the Vertiport office in Chicago at 14th and Wood streets, a ride to O’Hare on an Uber Black costs about $140 one way.
“The game plan for the future is that in the next couple of years it will be like an UberX ride, where a one—way trip will cost from $50 to $75,” Tinley Park Village manager Pat Carr said.