This article is adapted from the business magazine Capital and is available here for ten days. Afterwards it will only be available to read at Like stern, Capital belongs to RTL Deutschland.

The Summer Olympics will begin in Paris – the long-awaited goal for thousands of athletes around the world. Just like the southwest German air taxi start-up Volocopter, which wanted to offer regular flights for the first time to the mass event in the French capital in cooperation with the airport operator ADP.

Volocopter’s giant drones would fly on three routes in the Paris region, “accessible to the general public as a complement to the Paris region’s existing public transport,” as ADP announced last year. In recent weeks, however, doubts have increased as to whether the necessary approval would be granted in time by the EU aviation safety authority EASA.

According to French media reports, the German start-up itself apparently no longer believes in it. “We probably won’t be able to carry paying passengers,” the daily newspaper “Le Figaro” quotes Volocopter CEO Dirk Hoke. In a press conference with specialist journalists, Hoke specified that passengers would be allowed to fly with the model called Volocity “upon invitation” – for example politicians, athletes and experts. The question of how often and when the two-seater aircraft should be allowed to take off is being discussed with the supervisory authorities. Between three and five flights are planned per route.

But it is unclear whether Volocopter itself will be able to carry out this low-cost flight program during the games. Local politicians and environmental groups are up in arms against the project, particularly against an inner-city landing site that is to be set up on a barge on the Seine for a few months. At the same time, French Transport Minister Patrice Vergriete and President Emmanuel Macron are considered supporters of the plan, who want to set an example for a new culture of innovation in the “Grande Nation”.

The delay is extremely inconvenient for the start-up. The rapidly growing company has high financial needs, which currently cannot be adequately covered by investors. As “Spiegel” reported at the end of March, FDP Transport Minister Volker Wissing is said to be considering providing 150 million euros for the air taxi start-up together with the Free State of Bavaria.

According to the data portal Crunchbase, Volocopter has so far received around 725 million euros from investors; most recently, in autumn 2022, the company behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Neom megacity project took part. According to the most recent figures available in the Federal Gazette, Volocopter reported an annual loss of 118 million euros in 2021 alone.