Saudi Arabia's FII Institute invests in German electric plane start-up Lilium

The company's 7-seater electric aircraft is set to offer a shuttle service between 14 sites in Florida when it begins commercial operations in 2024

Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative Institute has invested in Germany's electric aircraft start-up Lilium.

The investment is a part of a $3.3 billion transaction announced last week, which will see Lilium list on the Nasdaq market in the US through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, Qell Acquisition Corporation.

The start-up is raising about $830m through the deal.

“Our investment in Lilium is aligned with the FII-Institute’s mission: to support initiatives and projects which will have a positive impact on humanity," Richard Attias, the institute's chief executive said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency.

The FII Institute is a think tank-cum-foundation set up as a non-profit body to support the development of technologies to address some of the world's biggest social and environmental challenges. Its board includes the governor of the kingdom's Public Investment Fund Yasir Al Rumayyan, its ambassador to the US Princess Reema Bint Bandar, Emaar Properties managing director Mohamed Alabbar and former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.

The institute has invested alongside global fund managers Baillie Gifford, Blackrock and Pimco, China's Tencent, Spain's Ferrovial and US big data company Palantir.

Lilium, which employs more than 400 engineers, has been developing a 7-seater vertical take-off and landing electric jet for the past five years. The aircraft, which is intended to be used as a regional shuttle service, is capable of flying at up to 10,000 feet for a range of more than 155 miles and at a projected cruise speed of 175 miles per hour.

It has already secured CRI-A01 certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency and has a launch network in Florida planned with 14 different sites across the state due to be built by the firm's infrastructure partners. It is also planning 10 sites in Europe. The company expects to launch commercial operations of the 7-seater jet by 2024.

FILE PHOTO: A picture from Munich flying taxi startup Lilium shows its five-seater prototype in Munich, Germany, October, 2019. Lilium/Handout via REUTERS        THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo

“We view the FII Institute as one of the leading global platforms for sustainable impact investments and a strategic partner who can help drive our vision for an open global architecture for carbon neutral air travel,” Alexander Asseily, Lilium's chief strategy officer, said.