Passenger Airships May be the Next Mode of Transportation

This UK-based blimp company is ready to take alternative transportation to new heights.

Jun 7, 2021
Passenger Airships May be the Next Mode of Transportation | This UK-based blimp company is ready to take alternative transportation to new heights.

Transportation technology has entered a Renaissance period in recent years. Personal mobility devices including e-scooters and e-bikes took cities by storm. Apps like Lyft paved the way for a new kind of taxi ride, and back in 2019, rideshare platform Uber even introduced a helicopter service for truly adventurous commuters.

As technology evolves, the public has eagerly embraced innovative ways to get from Point A to Point B. And now, a UK-based air vehicle manufacturer says it’s ready to take alternative transportation to new heights.

Forget glamorous private jet services and low-cost carriers — Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) recently announced several potential flight routes between European cities that will be carried out via blimp. Specifically meant for short-haul flights, the airships will carry up to 100 passengers per journey. 

But beyond the novelty of traveling by blimp, this mode of transportation has a significant positive impact on the environment. According to HAV, their Airlander 10 airship creates 75 percent fewer emissions than comparable aircraft. Over the next five years, the company says, their blimps could potentially deliver a 90 percent carbon dioxide reduction.

An illustrative video shows the blimp’s beautiful interior, replete with luxury sofas and seating areas, floor to ceiling glass windows, and a bar. The images conjure up a past era, in which air travel was a glamorous activity which required people to dress up for their journeys.

HAV’s CEO, Tom Grundy, told the Guardian that the airship goes far beyond providing bragging rights for the rich and famous “This isn’t a luxury product,” he said. “It’s a practical solution to challenges posed by the climate crisis.”

Pointing out that some 47 percent regional flight routes are serviced by long haul aircraft that emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide, Grundy suggested that using air vehicles for shorter flights would provide a major boost to the environment.

“We’ve got aircraft designed to travel very long distances going very short distances, when there is actually a better solution. How much longer will we expect to have the luxury of travelling these short distances with such a big carbon footprint?”

Gundy was optimistic that the eco-friendly nature of blimps would resonate with people who are concerned about sustainability. “It’s an early and quick win for the climate,” he said. “Especially when you use this to get over an obstacle like water or hills.”

The airships travel at slower speeds than standard commercial aircraft, but when factoring in the time spent traveling to and from major airports, a blimp journey will take roughly the same amount of time as a traditional flight. The blimps can take off and land via almost any flat surface, opening up the possibility to create temporary airfields in a multitude of locations and reducing dependence on airports that are already heavily snarled with traffic.

Although the company has announced potential routes, including Belfast to Liverpool and Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca, there are a number of finalizations that need to be made before lift-off. The company is still planning partnerships and negotiating with airlines that could potentially operate the flights.

In the meantime, HAV has inked a deal with Swedish company OceanSky Cruises to provide blimps for carbon footprint-free North Pole journeys. HAV will facilitate the blimps for a “pioneering expedition” over the Arctic, with stunning views visible through the glass floor of the blimp.

With green transport becoming a higher priority for many travelers, blimps provide a unique, earth-friendly alternative to commercial flights. While HAV is still ironing out the final details to get blimp flights off the ground, introducing the airship option is a huge step towards making sustainable transport more mainstream. Travel that’s easier on the planet, as well as an adventure, is sure to be widely embraced by the public.

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Fascinated by storytelling since childhood, Lauren is passionate about the written word. She’s a freelance writer who has covered everything from the latest developments in tech to geopolitics. When she’s not writing, Lauren is interested in genealogical research and family folklore.