When Spain’s much-missed tourists and pilgrims finally return, they may be offered a novel way to rise above the crowds and appreciate some of the country’s most dramatic urban architecture.

Enaire, Spain’s air navigation authority, has announced plans to begin demonstrating flying taxis in Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela in 2022.

“We need to move urban mobility into the third dimension: airspace. And we need to do it as efficiently and sustainably as we can,” the authority’s director general, Ángel Luis Arias, told an online conference this week.

Arias said Enaire was working on European projects involving the use of flying taxis and other flying vehicles to move people around urban and semi-urban areas, as well as the use of drones to deliver goods.

He added: “Enaire, in its capacity as a public company of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, is willing to fulfil its duties to attract and help any private sector companies or public organisations that are interested in allowing Spain to position itself at the forefront of the development and operation of this new sector.”

Enaire is participating in two EU-funded projects that belong to Horizon 2020, the union’s biggest research and innovation programme to date. One is led by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, the other by the multinational technology company Everis.

“The plan if for both projects to demonstrate air taxis in Europe in 2022,” Enaire said in a statement. “Enaire will manage the flight of the first air taxis in Spain, which will take place that year in Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela.”

Passenger-carrying drones have been successfully flown in recent years by companies including China’s Ehang and the German aviation startup Volocopter.

In July last year, the Spanish technology company Tecnalia unveiled its prototype for a pilotless, one-person air taxi. The taxi, designed to carry a person or load of up to 150kg, has a cruising height of between 100 metres and 300 metres, and can cover distances of up to 15km in 15 minutes.



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