CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines said Wednesday it will buy up to 200 small electric air taxis to help customers in urban areas get to the airport.

The airline said it will help electric-aircraft startup Archer develop an aircraft capable of helicopter-style, vertical takeoffs and landings. Archer hopes to deliver its first aircraft in 2024, if it wins certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

United said once the aircraft are flying, it and partner Mesa Airlines will acquire up to 200 that would be operated by another company.

According to an Archer presentation to investors, the orders are worth $1 billion with an option for $500 million more.

Privately held Archer, which is based in Palo Alto, California, announced separately that it has agreed to merge with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. and form a new publicly traded company. Archer and Atlas put a $3.8 billion value on the deal, which sent Atlas shares up 22%.

Archer’s aircraft are designed to fly under battery power for up to 60 miles at speeds of up to 150 mph (240 kph).

The company plans to launch service in congested areas close to airports. United estimated the air taxis could shuttle people from Hollywood to Los Angeles International Airport at about half the carbon emissions per passenger.

Cowen analyst Helane Becker said United could use Archer’s aircraft could operate between New York City and United’s hub operation at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey, or from downtown Chicago to O’Hare Airport, allowing airline customers to avoid traffic.

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