Delta Air Lines says it has invested $60 million in a startup that hopes to build electric helicopter-like air taxis to ferry passengers to the airport.

Delta announced Tuesday that it has taken a 2% stake in Joby Aviation, and could invest up to another $140 million as the manufacturer hits key milestones.

Joby is among several companies working on electric-powered aircraft that take off and land vertically, like helicopters. The company has said that it expects to begin flying in 2024.

Current designs for electric air taxis are too small to use for airline flights — the weight of batteries is among the huge obstacles facing manufacturers. But airlines believe the machines could be attractive as a time-saving ride to and from airports in big, traffic-clogged cities. Delta hopes to use the Joby aircraft first in New York and Los Angeles.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian called the deal a groundbreaking opportunity to help customers in key markets that Delta has been building for many years.

Delta’s move follows United Airlines, which has announced large conditional orders for electric air taxis being developed by startup Archer Aviation and Eve, a subsidiary of Brazilian plane maker Embraer.

The Associated Press

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