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World’s First Vertical Take-Off Airport Opens In UK Car Park But Don’t Buy Ticket Yet

A windswept car park beside the Coventry ring road is the unlikely venue for what is claimed to be the world’s first fully operational “vertiport” – a hub for electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

A circular doughnut-shaped building about half the area of a football pitch is ready to receive and dispatch air taxis, as well as drones.

The name for the West Midlands city’s second airport is Air-One. The company behind it is Urban-Air Port, which has support from taxpayers as well as the aircraft manufacturer Supernal – part of the Hyundai conglomerate.

Ricky Sandhu, the firm’s founder and executive chairman, said the facility heralds “a new age of zero-emission, low-congestion urban transport”.

He called the opening “the starting gun for a new age of transport, an age of zero-emission, congestion-free travel between and within cities that will make people healthier, happier and more connected than ever before”.

But while the structure provides proof of concept, active commercial use as a passenger airport is years away.

Initially police and delivery drones will fly from the site.

The aviation minister, Robert Courts, said: “The opening of Air-One, backed by government funding, will revolutionise the way people and goods travel across the nation.

“This step forward puts Britain at the vanguard of clean transport, bringing investment and high-skilled, green job opportunities to the nation, while levelling up opportunity in the Midlands.”

People from Coventry and beyond can sign up for tickets to visit the vertiport. But Coventry’s motorists will get their car park back at the end of the summer.

The company says: “Urban-Air Port will redeploy Air-One® to other locations in the UK and internationally to undertake a variety of demonstrations in different environments and settings, establishing the global standard for ground infrastructure.”

Globally, a further 200 vertiports are planned in the West Midlands and London, and internationally in the Australia, South Korea, France, Germany, Scandinavia, South East Asia and Los Angeles in the US.

Forecasters have said the “advanced air mobility” market could be worth a trillion dollars (£770bn) within the next two decades.

Coventry’s existing airport, on the southeast outskirts of the city, was briefly a base for international passenger flights from 2004 to 2008. But is now only a general aviation aerodrome.

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