Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has announced a “reservation agreement” with French eco-tourism company Grands Espaces that will likely see it take one of the first three Airlander 10s off the production line.

It comes as the hybrid airship developer prepares to launch production this year from a site near Doncaster in northern England capable of delivering 12 aircraft annually, the exact location of which it is yet to confirm.

Grands Espaces - Airlander

Grands Espaces expects to take delivery in 2028

HAV had already said it holds reservations for three aircraft in the tourism and leisure sector but had not named the potential customers.

Grands Espaces was founded by Arctic scientist and author Christian Kempf and specialises in polar cruises, or “expeditions”, on small ships. It will use the aircraft, which can land on water and ice, to “offer its customers the opportunity to experience new adventures in hard to reach and undiscovered places”.

The company expects to take delivery of the Airlander 10 in 2028.

George Land, executive director of sales at HAV, says Airlander 10 allows tourism operators to broaden their portfolio “without the negative effects legacy aircraft have on the planet”.

“Through this reservation agreement [we] are rethinking what is possible for a low-impact, low-carbon tourism industry.”

Kempf says Grands Espaces has been working on the deal with HAV for four years.

Other would-be customers for the Airlander 10 include Air Nostrum, which has a commitment for 20 aircraft, each fitted in a 100-passenger configuration. The Spanish regional airline plans to launch an Airlander network from Malta to surrounding islands and countries, as well as within Spain.

Other potential markets for the start-up are cargo, communications, and military surveillance. In September last year, HAV signed a memorandum of understanding with BAE Systems to “explore the potential in security and defence applications” of the airship.

HAV plans to deliver its first Airlander 10 in 2026 and be producing 10 a year by the end of the decade.