SKT invests $100m in flying taxi company Joby Aviation


The South Korean operator is deepening its existing partnership with the air mobility specialist, aim to become a key player in country’s emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market

Today, South Korea’s largest mobile operator, SK Telekom (SKT), has announced it will take a roughly 2% stake in UAM specialist Joby Aviation for $100 million.

Joby is currently developing an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, with which it aims to ultimately provide commercial urban air travel. The aircraft will reportedly have a range of 241km and will be able to reach speeds of up 322km/h.

Joby is aiming to launch the vehicle in the US – the company’s home market – in 2024.

SKT first partnered with Joby in February last year, with the operator pledging to provide the prospective aerial taxis with connectivity and its nationwide ride-sharing app TMAP. By September, the SKT had announced a pilot programme on Jeju Island with the K-UAM Dream Team Consortium, which also included defence and IT specialist Hanwha Systems, the Korea Meteorological Institute, and Korea Airports Corporation (KAC), the national airport authority.

This consortium aims to participate in the South Korean government’s K-UAM Grand Challenge, a competition created to demonstrate the safety of UAM flight and find the country’s first official UAM operator.

With this direct investment in Joby, SKT is demonstrating its further commitment to this goal, hoping to leverage its national network and ridesharing experience.

“We will do our utmost to promote the demonstration and commercialization of urban air mobility in Korea, based on our partnership with Joby Aviation,” said Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT. “This technology promises to greatly reduce customers’ travel time and we look forward to turning Korea into a mobility powerhouse.”

“Our partnership with SKT places Joby in the best possible position to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the Korean market, where we continue to see a strong drive from the government to realize aerial ridesharing,” added JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation. “We’re grateful for SKT’s commitment to Joby and look forward to working with them as we develop a transformational air taxi service for Korea.”

SKT is targeting the launch of commercial flying taxis by 2025.

From autonomous driving to flying taxis, what role will mobile connectivity play in the transport infrastructure of the future? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s Total Telecom Congress live in Amsterdam

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