The flying taxi project that was denounced by elected officials in Paris

“There is nothing wrong with this project (…), a completely useless and highly polluting tool for a few privileged people in a hurry.” These words by Dan Leart, deputy for the ecological transition at the Paris City Council, sum up the general feeling among elected officials in Paris about the flying taxi pilot project on the Seine, supported by the Paris Airports Group (ADP) for the 2024 Olympic Games. Elected officials voted against the decision, and elected officials from all parties expressed their opposition.

Councillor Florian Sitbon (PS) has criticised the “absurd” project approved by the state and the Île-de-France region. “To save a few minutes for a few rich people in a hurry, ignorant and cynical about the climate emergency, we will pollute the atmosphere, we will destroy a healthy environment,” he denounced.

Consumption is “two to three times higher than a car”

The mayor of the 15th LR, Philippe Goujon, has indicated his ambition to permanently close the heliport in Issy-les-Moulineaux. “The consumption of these flying machines, nearly 190 kWh per 100 km, is two to three times higher than a car with a thermal engine to transport a single passenger,” added Claire de Clermont-Tonnerre (Changer Paris).

“It's a new use that we didn't need at all (…) like what we saw with self-service scooters,” said communist councillor Jean-Noël Acqua sarcastically, denouncing the “ecological deviation” combined with “social separatism”, recalling that it would be necessary to pay “a modest sum of 140 euros for 35 kilometres”.

Environment Authority calls for accountability

ADP, together with its partners the German manufacturer Volocopter and the Île-de-France region, wants to take advantage of the Olympic show to pilot electric taxis on three flights, including one linking the Issy helipad to a barge on the Seine near the Austerlitz station. The official goal is to “test a new mobility offer in dense urban areas”.

However, in early September, the French environment authority (AE) deemed the impact study of the planned future pilot base for flying taxis on the Seine, known as “Vertiport”, to be “incomplete”, raising doubts about noise, visual pollution, energy consumption and the risks to the safety of passengers and Parisians.

As part of this environmental assessment, elected Parisian officials gave a negative opinion to the Paris Council on the construction of this take-off and landing platform, which will be installed on the quayside of the port of Austerlitz.

The encroaching municipalities are not included in the general investigation.

“The priority must be to improve everyday transport and not expensive tools reserved for a few people,” the mayors of Ivry-sur-Seine, Kremlin-Bistre, Gentilly and Malakoff, and the group of communist ecologists and left-wing citizens of the Île-de-France regional council denounced in a joint press release.

“The flying taxis will fly over the areas we represent and their residents at a height of 150 meters above obstacles on the ground,” the elected officials write, but “none of the suburban communities we crossed were informed in advance of this project and all were excluded from the geographic scope of this public inquiry. This is unacceptable!”

Samantha Arnold

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