Klaus Roewe, CEO of Lilium_Yong Ni_Bao'an Shenzhen

China’s low-altitude travel takes off

As German eVTOL maker Lilium sets up a HQ in Shenzhen, and with more helicopter taxi routes planned for the Greater Bay Area, incentive and meeting planners will soon have more experiences to offer clients

A HELICOPTER-TAXI service between two districts in China’s hi-tech metropolis of Shenzhen and a major announcement by a German company are merely the beginning of a “low-altitude economy” taking off across the Greater Bay Area. So it won’t be long before incentive travel and business event organisers will be taking notice clients wanting to experience more event destinations in the GBA.

A new service by Heli-Eastern will operate from a helipad outside Shenzhen North Railway Station to connect with a science park in Guangming 23.5km north. The journey can take up to 50 minutes by car but eight minutes by helicopter, according to Heli-Eastern, a Shenzhen-based company approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The central government in Beijing has already asked that regional authorities set targets to develop both manned and unmanned low-altitude air services that would include delivery drones, emergency services such as rescue, tourism and air taxis.

Show-Off Pics… More to Shenzhen than just hi-tech

Developments on the low-altitude front in and around Shenzhen are happening fast. In March, Heli-Eastern representatives recently joined a delegation from the Shenzhen Low-Altitude Economy Industry Association on a visit to Zhongshan, a city in Guangdong province across the Pearl Delta from Shenzhen and Hong Kong. An air-taxi route is now expected to begin operating between Shenzhen and Zhongshan this year.

With a low-altitude air-service industry primed to be a “new engine of growth”, according to announcements made by Shenzhen authorities on WeChat, officials in Hong Kong are also looking at how the city can catch up with its neighbour.

Shenzhen wants to see a low-altitude flight network connecting the nine municipalities and two special administrative regions (Hong Kong and Macau) of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) – an economic region of more than 85 million people.

News about the development of an eVTOL (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Aircrafts) industry in the GBA comes as a bridge linking Shenzhen to Zhongshan opened at the weekend.  The new link across the Pearl Delta estuary cuts the road journey times from about two hours to 30 minutes and is seen a key development in closer connections between GBA cities.

The developments also follow an announcement on June 10 by Lilium, a German manufacturer of eVTOLs, to set up a base in the Shenzhen district of Bao’an. Lilium will also establish a new entity – with its name translated from Chinese as “Powerful Wing”. Lilium becomes the first European eVTOL maker to form a regional headquarters in Shenzhen to serve the Greater Bay Area and elsewhere in China, according to the company.

We are proud to welcome Lilium to Bao’an… as part of our shared mission to build the low altitude economy of the future,” said  Yong Ni, a district representative. “This valuable collaboration will create exciting new opportunities and support the development of the necessary infrastructure to bring sustainable regional aviation to Shenzhen.”

Klaus Roewe, CEO of Lilium, said: “China represents a huge opportunity for the eVTOL industry and this partnership with the Bao’an district will expand our footprint even further in China.

“We are particularly grateful for the modern facilities provided by the Bao’an district in the Bao’an Low Altitude Economy Industry Public Service Centre, and for the holistic support they offer to encourage growth in the low altitude economy industry.”

Main picture: Klaus Roewe, Lilium chief executive, and Bao’an district representative Yong Ni at a signing marking collaboration in developing the region’s low-altitude air-transport industry

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