United Airlines and Mesa Air Invest in Electric Planes
United and Mesa Invest in Heart Aerospace
United Airlines (UAL) and Mesa Air (MESA) are teaming up to make electric planes a viable way to transport passengers on short-haul flights. The two companies, along with United’s venture fund, participated in a venture funding round in Heart Aerospace, an electric aircraft maker out of Sweden. The company is in the process of developing a 19-seat electric plane. The investment is part of United’s plan to test new types of aircraft to reduce its carbon footprint.
United and Mesa have each agreed to purchase 100 of the airplanes granted they meet their specifications. The airlines already announced their intention to invest in Archer Aviation, which is making an electric flying taxi. Both companies agreed to purchase as many as 200 of Archer’s electric flying taxis.
Smaller Markets Could Get a Boost
The ES-19 is not expected to begin service until 2026 at the earliest. The plane is expected to fly 250 miles on a single charge and would be used for short flights. United has already identified more than 100 routes which could use and benefit from the ES-19.
The Heart Aerospace electric planes are projected to be cheaper than planes which run on fuel. That could reduce prices for flights in smaller markets and increase the incentive for airlines to fly between smaller destinations. Mesa has been phasing out flights outside of major cities recently, but this could change once it has access to the new aircraft.
Heart’s Planes are Bigger Than Most Other Electric Aircraft
Prior to investing in Heart, United looked at the company for close to a year. United liked that Heart’s planes are bigger than other electric planes in development. The startup raised $35 million in the venture round which had participation from United and Mesa. Heart also counts Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the Bill Gates-created VC fund, as an investor.
Electric planes have the potential to significantly impact the airline industry. Now that United and Mesa have made investments in the technology, it will be interesting to see how other airlines will respond.
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