In the hope of arousing renewed interest in the service of European airships, Hybrid air vehicles (HAV), the Bedford, England-based aviation company, just announced new short-hop routes for its low-carbon Airlander blimp that would provide alternatives to standard commuter flights.
Using a fraction of the carbon footprint compared to conventional transport options, the environmentally conscious, 100-passenger Airlander 10 blimp advertised routes from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in four and a half hours; Liverpool to Belfast in five hours and 20 minutes; Oslo to Stockholm, in six and a half hours; and from Seattle to Vancouver in four hours.
In an interview with The GuardianTom Grundy, CEO of HAV, calls the futuristic Airlander a “Fast ferry” it is a short-term solution to a more serious global crisis. Incredibly, nearly 47% of regional airline flights unite cities less than 230 km away, resulting in massive amounts of unnecessary carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
“We have planes designed to fly very long distances over very short distances, when there is actually a better solution,” Grundy noted. “How long are we going to expect to have the luxury of traveling these short distances with such a large carbon footprint?”
Grundy says their hybrid-electric Airlander aircraft could achieve similar connections with just 10% of the carbon footprint, and with even fewer emissions on the road when HAV airships switch to all-electric.
The bulbous Airlander 10 can take off and land from almost any flat surface, reaching altitudes of up to 7,000 feet and speeds of around 57 mph in initial tests. HAV has stepped up its development with support from the UK government and grants from the European Union that will allow them to produce around 12 Airlander 10 models per year by 2025.
HAV is currently in talks with numerous airlines to operate these newly announced routes and intends to announce additional airline partnerships and customers in the coming months.
The company has already signed an agreement to build an airship for Swedish luxury travel company OceanSky Cruises, which intends to operate the airship for “experiential travel” excursions over the North Pole with famous arctic explorer Robert Swan.
“It’s a quick and rapid victory for the climate”, Grundy said. “Especially when you use it to get over an obstacle like water or hills.”