I suspect there was no coincidence in the timing of the announcement of the deal between Heathrow co-owner Ferrovial, electric aviation business Vertical Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic Airways to create a network of 25 vertiports linking different parts of the UK to Heathrow airport; and Glasgow's hosting of the COP26 conference. One of the biggest selling points for vertiports is that they facilitate zero carbon air transport via eVTOLs. An eVTOL is an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, which to the untrained eye looks like a helicopter and like a helicopter, can carry passengers.
We now eagerly await the locational detail of each of the 25 vertiports. The logistics in locating a vertiport are not to be underestimated: there must be a flight path between Heathrow and the destination vertiport, over land which the eVTOL is permitted to travel; the vertiport itself must enable the eVTOL to land / take flight at a safe distance from congested areas; and the vertiport must connect into major transport hubs for easy onward travel.
It is easy to see how vertiports will benefit the local economies which surround them. We might even see towns vying to host a vertiport. But, if you are a property owner how could you profit from Ferrovial, Vertical Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic Airways announcement?
- Do you own the airspace through which an eVTOL is likely to fly? If so, you may be able to leverage this airspace by charging a premium for through flight. This is likely to be most relevant in the areas surrounding the vertiport as the eVTOL will be flying at a low level and therefore likely to require permission from the landowner beneath.
- Do you own property near to the vertiport? Could this benefit from increased footfall? Could the property be adapted in any way to profit from the increased footfall?
- Do you have land / a building with a publically accessible roof, close to a public transport hub? Could this be leased to the consortium as the location on which to site the vertiport?
The recent announcement could have a positive impact on many local economies, companies and individuals. I look forward to the arrival of the new vertiports.