Global Crossing Establishes UrbanX eVTOL Airline In Miami
U.S. charter and cargo carrier Global Crossing Airlines has announced the creation of UrbanX, a dedicated subsidiary devoted to urban air mobility (UAM), with plans to launch services across Miami and South Florida beginning in 2027.
The planned services will be operated using electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicles from Embraer spinoff Eve Air Mobility, with which Global Crossing signed a letter of intent in 2022 for up to 200 aircraft.
“Our mission is to further the development of UAM in South Florida, and provide a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly way to transport people within Miami-Dade and Broward [counties],” says Lucy Morillo, a Florida-based attorney and entrepreneur who was tapped by Global Crossing to head the new airline as president and CEO.
“But we’re coming at it from a different perspective,” she adds. “We’re utilizing a social enterprise business model forging true public-private partnerships to make sure that the services we provide are not only to passengers, but to the surrounding communities at large.”
As part of that social enterprise model, UrbanX plans to collaborate with the public sector to provide services for governments, including those that offer benefits for the wider public, such as air ambulance and medical services, Morillo says. To further that aim, the company plans to stand up an advisory board composed of community leaders and industry experts to provide strategic guidance and ensure that services are meeting the needs of diverse stakeholders.
Morillo says that her nontraditional background as a woman of color and entrepreneur with deep ties to the Miami area—including through philanthropic endeavors such as raising up to $60 million for a local children’s hospital—will boost the company’s efforts to achieve social acceptance from local communities.
“There’s a lot of education and relationship forming and cultivation that needs to happen in the next couple of years so we can ensure the trust of the community before we start flying these eVTOLs,” Morillo says.
Ed Wegel, chairman and CEO of parent company Global Crossing, described the decision to go with air taxis from Eve over competing OEMs as a “natural choice,” largely due to the firm backing from Embraer.
That support includes maintenance and parts and services, as well as confidence that Embraer has the capital and expertise to complete the type certification process. At the same time, he said Global Crossing has a fiduciary duty to continue to explore other air taxi OEMs to ensure it has the best technology on the market.
Wegel also said that Embraer will help finance the sale through a funding facility from the Brazilian National Development Bank, or BNDES, which approved $92.5 million in export credits for Eve in 2022.
He also sees Embraer’s presence in Fort Lauderdale–where Global Crossing is building a $30 million maintenance hangar to house its A320s, as well as UrbanX’s future eVTOLs–as a further selling point.
“Embraer has certified a number of platforms going all the way back to the Bandeirante and the Brasília, all the way up to the 145 and the 175, so these people know what they’re doing,” Wegel says. “As we evaluated all those other OEMs against Eve, it still comes out as number one for us.”
Vertiport sites remain to be selected, but Morillo says that UrbanX is looking to launch services using existing structures, including helicopter pads and parking garages, as potential options. The company also has a partnership with infrastructure provider Ferrovial, and is considering building its own vertiports too, including at points adjacent to hospitals and trauma centers.
Morillo says she has been fielding calls from real estate developers across Miami-Dade and Broward counties interested in integrating eVTOL landing sites into their properties.
She also said the company is in talks with Miami International Airport and the mayor of Miami about establishing vertiports adjacent to the airport to facilitate downtown shuttle flights.
Eventually, she said the company hopes to offer flights elsewhere in South Florida including Orlando and Tampa, as well as to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.
“It’s not a matter of if this will happen, it’s a matter of when this will happen, and unavoidably, it’s going to come in the next couple of years,” Morillo says. “We know how quiet and sustainable urban transport can deliver so much value to the wider public, and our focus now is on communicating that message and bringing everyone from different communities on board.”