Air Nostrum, which operates flights under the Iberia Regional umbrella from its base in Valencia, has ordered 10 Airlander 10 aircraft, with delivery scheduled for 2026.
The hybrid airships, made by Britain’s Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), could cut emissions by 90%, the company said.
Held aloft by helium and powered electricity, they can hold 100 passengers and typically fly 300-400 kilometers (186-249 miles), according to the manufacturer. However, don’t expect a lightning-fast flight – the maximum speed will be 80 mph (129 kph).
The deal follows six months of “rigorous studies and modeling” of internal Spanish routes, according to the manufacturer.
The plane is fondly known as ‘the flying wanderer’.
Hybrid Air Vehicles
HAV says in the future, potential short-haul routes for the plane could include Liverpool to Belfast (168 miles), Seattle to Vancouver (127 miles) and Oslo to Stockholm (263 miles). The plane can make point-to-point travel as it doesn’t need a runway to land – waterfronts, green fields and underused airports are all reserved by HAV.
“Airlander does not need an airport structure to operate. HAV is exploring new operational locations with Air Nostrum,” a spokesperson told CNN.
The interior is a little more glamorous than typical airplane cabins, with a 1-2-1 configuration, some seats facing each other, and transparent walls offering views of the landscape below. For those who like to see where they are going, it flies at up to 20,000 feet.
The soft interior is a step up from regular airplane seats.
Hybrid Air Vehicles
Carlos Bertomeu, president of Air Nostrum, said the airships will help his company meet the European Union’s “Fit for 55” goals of reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
“The Airlander 10 will drastically reduce emissions and that is why we have entered into this agreement with HAV,” he said in a statement. “Sustainability… is already a non-negotiable fact in the day-to-day operations of commercial aviation.
“Agreements such as these are a very effective way to achieve the decarbonisation targets envisaged in the Fit for 55 legislative initiative.”
HAV CEO Tom Grundy added: “As countries such as France, Denmark, Norway, Spain and the UK begin to implement ambitious mandates to decarbonise domestic and short-haul flights, Hybrid Air Vehicles and Air Nostrum Group are showing how we are – and get there soon.
“Airlander is designed to provide a brighter future for sustainable aviation services, enable new transportation networks and provide rapid growth opportunities for our customers.”
HAV will begin building the fleet this year, creating 1,800 jobs in Yorkshire, UK.
The company said it was working on “further developments in electric propulsion,” and hopes the Airlander 10 will become the first large-scale aircraft to achieve zero-emission flight.
Photos: Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles