It’s not every day that a new form of transportation comes along, never mind one that’s also delightfully environmentally friendly. I speak of the Airlander 10, a Hybrid Air Vehicle (HAV), the first new commercial airship developed in almost a century and 84 years since the Hindenburg canceled airship travel seemingly forever.
HAV announced a prospective list of Airlander 10 routes this week, including Liverpool to Belfast, Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca, Seattle to Vancouver, and Oslo to Stockholm. HAV hopes these routes, and other short inter-city hops, will be running by 2025. Even though it moves faster than a cruise ship, there’s no word about long haul trips for the Airlander.
The video above highlights the glass floor, the on-ship bar and the stately cabins (with beds!), but the real reason to celebrate this new (old) travel innovation is the vehicle’s electric-hybrid carbon footprint, which is less than 10% of the carbon footprint per person as plane travel.
At a top speed of 57 MPH, Airlander 10 may seem like an indulgent mode of transportation, suitable for people who literally have all day to get to where they’re going, but as HAV rightly points out, after you factor in travel time to/from airports, the total journey time is comparable to taking a plane.
“Wait the Airlander 10 won’t be taking off and landing at airports? How’s that possible?” you ask? Because it can take off and land on a (very large) dime, that’s how. All it needs is a relatively small, wide open area, so they can theoretically take off and land in the center of a city, like a helicopter.
“This isn’t a luxury product, it’s a practical solution to challenges posed by the climate crisis.” says Tom Grundy, HAV’s chief executive. Grundy likens the Airlander to “A very fast ferry.”
As about 47% of regional airplane flights connect cities that are less than 230 miles (370km) apart, and emit a huge about of carbon dioxide doing so, the short-haul Airlander 10 applications seem ripe with potential.
And now for the real reason I’m writing this post. As distinguished, veteran, and highly professional travel writer, I would very much like to get on an early flight so I can write a defining account of the experience for prospective travelers. Also, because it would be super cool. Call me, Tom.