Plans to set up spaces with lifts and a place to recline have been outlined at Girona airport
Rome airports have announced plans for taxis in which the driver folds out the window and folds out the seats.
Those looking to travel as if on a barge can hop into the pilot’s seat before folding out the overhead storage, but landing – and taxiing out – do not involve folding.
The pilots’ lounges have been designed to look like a barge on the Rialto canal in Venice, where four people can sit back while someone else picks them up.
Airport ground staff stand next to machines that show passengers how the Elevate taxi is to be operated. Photograph: Antonio Calanni/Reuters
The Elevate, due to enter trial this month, is due to begin operations next year and will be self-operating. Passengers will be able to get the lift in the car park, then set it up with a button on their smartphones. They would then summon the lift to take them where they want to go.
Once in the lift, passengers will be able to lounge with their laptops on reclining leather seats, choose between relaxing pods or stilettos-backed seats, and let the taxi driver do the heavy lifting.
“Elevate is like an artisanal car hire service because the owner of the car will be able to watch,” said Fabio Reverantini, the commercial manager at Girona airport, near Barcelona.
The system will use specially made elevators to cut down on the chance of passengers spilling their drinks. Photograph: Antonio Calanni/Reuters
Reverantini said the world was ripe for self-driving taxis. “Rio has driverless taxis, and I expect it will be in the new Centro Orientale [in Rome], as the public is demanding that this aspect of transport should exist,” he said.
The elevator’s operator will receive two-hour shifts and charge extra for more holidays. Passengers will be charged €20 (£17) each way, but all operators will offer cheaper deals. Elevate will encourage people to spend more time at the airport to ensure revenues.
Reverantini said: “Cargo: they want to get up and go to the check-in and these guys don’t. People want to go to the gym, or look for their cars. They really need to be at the airport for at least an hour, but they think they’re only going for 30 minutes. So that’s why we’re trying to offer something different.”
Towards the end of the trial, owners of the specially made, nine-seat elevators will receive a new contract which will include the right to an unlimited supply.
Each set of lifts will cost €1.6m. The vehicle is outfitted with rechargeable batteries and USB ports for phone charging.