German air taxi manufacturer Lilium has announced a US$1 billion commercial deal with Brazilian airline Azul as part of its sustainability efforts to fly zero-carbon emission aircraft.
The deal will include Azul purchasing 220 of Lilium’s jets, the single largest eVTOL (air taxi) order in the start-up company’s history.
The launch will open up air networks in Brazil, alongside its previously announced plans in Europe and the US – set to begin in 2025.
Azul will operate and maintain the fleet, and Lilium will provide the maintenance program, replacement batteries and other custom spare parts, according to the statement.
“Our brand presence, our unique route network, and our powerful loyalty program give us the tools to create the markets and demand for the Lilium Jet network in Brazil,” said John Rodgerson, chief executive of Azul.
“As we did in the Brazilian domestic market over the last 13 years, we look forward to again, now with the Lilium Jet, creating a whole new market in the years to come.”
The Sao Paulo-based carrier will support Lilium’s certifications for the jet and all other regulatory duties.
In 2019, Azul released its first sustainability report, which included its zero-emissions aircraft efforts, and this purchase is part of its latest move.
As part of its mission, Azul wants to “maintain the youngest fleet in Brazil with fuel-efficient aircraft; monitor, relate and manage greenhouse gas emissions”, according to the 2020 report.
Alongside its new jets, Azul operates a fleet of 154 aircraft, mostly Airbus A320 jets, Embraer ERJ-190 jets and ATR 42/72 jets, according to Planespotters.
The airline also operates a smaller amount of Airbus A321s, A330s, Boeing 737s and Embraer E2 aircraft.
Munich-based Lilium is developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet that can travel distances of up to 300 kilometres within one hour on a single charge.
Lilium was founded in 2015 and applied for concurrent type certification with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration in 2018.
The business aircraft can carry six passengers with one pilot, has a wing span of 13.9 metres and a length of 8.5 metres.
It can reach a maximum physical range of 250-plus kilometres and has a cruise altitude of 3,000 metres.
This new deal is to support Azul’s plan to increase Brazil’s air connections via zero carbon emission aircraft.
Azul flies to regions in Brazil, Cameroon, Portugal and the US, according to flightconnections.
Daniel Wiegand, co-founder and CEO of Lilium, said, “Azul has brought convenient and affordable air travel to underserved markets across the Americas and this makes them an ideal partner for Lilium.
“We’re excited to work with Azul’s seasoned team to deploy a co-branded eVTOL network in Brazil.”