U.K. startup says Dymond Group buy-in could see vertiport built in Stephenville

·3 min read
The U.K. startup Urban-Air Port believes there will be a big global demand for its Air-One vertiports. (Urban-Air Port - image credit)
The U.K. startup Urban-Air Port believes there will be a big global demand for its Air-One vertiports. (Urban-Air Port - image credit)

There is another deal in the works linked to the possible sale of the Stephenville airport to Ottawa-based businessman Carl Dymond, and this one could see a vertiport built on Newfoundland's west coast.

That's according to a startup company in the United Kingdom that makes vertiports — airports for drones and eVTOLs, aircraft that use electric power to take off and land vertically.

"We're right at the end. It's essentially just on the Stephenville acquisition," Urban-Air Port chief financial officer Adrian Zanelli told CBC News in a recent interview from London.

"Once that's complete, they're able to move ahead with us and it will go from there. So it's right in the final steps."

The deal will see the Dymond Group buy an ownership stake in Urban-Air Port.

Zanelli said the deal is expected to close in July, and involves a cash buy-in, although he could not provide details of financial terms. No money has changed hands at this point, he said.

"It's a really exciting partnership, really bringing something new and innovative to the market, to Canada in particular. And it shows how forward-thinking Carl and the entire Dymond Group are," Zanelli said.

"And we're really excited to be involved in this and looking forward to getting everything finalized in terms of signatures and crossing t's and dotting i's and getting the orders underway."

Carl Dymond/LinkedIn
Carl Dymond/LinkedIn

Urban-Air Port announced the planned investment by the Dymond Group in April.

Earlier this month, a Dymond Group official told the industry news website evtol.com that western Newfoundland is the likely location of the first Air-One vertiport in Canada.

"It just makes sense for it to be in Stephenville because that's the airport our CEO is buying," Wayne Forster, director of operations and strategic planning for the Dymond Group, told evtol.com.

Dymond Group CEO Carl Dymond did not grant interview requests from CBC News.

Negotiations for Dymond to acquire the western Newfoundland airport may be nearing a conclusion.

Last week, Stephenville Mayor Tom Rose said the airport board was scheduled to assemble this Tuesday for what "could be a very significant meeting, with a vote that could take place." There has been no announcement from the airport corporation board or Dymond since then.

In September, Dymond made a series of significant promises related to his planned acquisition of the Stepheville operation.

He said he would pour $200 million into infrastructure and the region, and create thousands of jobs.

Those plans include manufacturing cargo drones — "some of the biggest in the world," Dymond said at the time.

The Dymond deal for the Stephenville airport was initially expected to close nearly six months ago, but the process remains ongoing.

CBC
CBC

According to Zanelli, Dymond reached out to Urban-Air Port founder Ricky Sandhu late last year.

That initial contact started discussions that led to April's announcement of a deal between the two sides.

Zanelli said due diligence is still ongoing.

"We're comfortable with that," he said. "Other shareholders are comfortable. So we're comfortable on that side of things."

Urban-Air Port received a £1.2 million ($1.9 million Cdn) grant from the U.K. government in 2020, as part of its Future Flight Challenge Programme. According to Zanelli, Hyundai has also provided £750,000 (almost $1.2 million Cdn) in funding.

Urban-Air Port recently built a demonstrator of its Air-One vertiport in Coventry, about 150 kilometres northwest of London.

The company essentially ran an operational aerodrome inside the city for three weeks.

Zanelli said they believe there is a huge global demand for their product, and hope to have 200 sites in operation over the next five years.

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