Spanish regional airline Air Nostrum, launch customer of the Hybrid Air Vehicles “Airlander 10” airship, has doubled the size of an order placed in 2022, from 10 to 20 aircraft.
The Airlander 10, which is currently under development and is expected to enter service no sooner than 2027, is designed to carry up to 100 passengers or an equivalent amount of cargo with a low emissions footprint.
Air Nostrum is also joining Hybrid Air Vehicles’ Development Partner Programme through which the British firm aims to gather actionable feedback to develop the next airship model, the Airlander 50.
With its 50-ton payload, the Airlander 50 will be even larger than its predecessor, which, by some measures, is already the largest aircraft in the world.
“There are many factors that motivate us in flying Airlander, including a very low fuel consumption, bringing great ecological and economic benefits; the high operational versatility of being able to take-off and land on land and water,” stated Miguel Ángel Falcón, chairman of Mel Air and Vice President of Air Nostrum.
Although Spain remains the focus of Air Nostrum and one of the markets where it is expected to deploy the Airlander in the future, some airships will be assigned to its Maltese subsidiary, Mel Air.
From its central location in the Mediterranean, Mel Air will be able to operate airships on the relatively short routes within the Maltese archipelago as well as on routes linking Malta to Sicily, the Italian mainland, and North Africa.
“The commercial details of the deal are confidential, but by 2027, Hybrid Air Vehicles aims to deliver the first completed orders to its customers (including Air Nostrum Group) and build 12 new Airlander 10 aircraft per year thereafter,” a source at Hybrid Air Vehicles explained to AeroTime in an emailed statement.
In March 2023, Hybrid Air Vehicles received a £7 million funding package from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to develop an industrial facility expected to employ around 1,200 people.