Aalto HAPS Eyes IPO or M&A for 2026 Launch Amid Global Expansion

Aalto HAPS eyes IPO, targets early 2026 for commercial drone services launch, and expands globally with unique connectivity solutions.

By Alex P. Chase

4/4, 05:52 EDT

Key Takeaway

  • Aalto HAPS, evolving from Airbus, eyes an IPO or M&A to scale operations for a 2026 commercial launch, already partnering with global entities.
  • Its drones offer unique "tower service" for mobile operators in densely populated areas unsuitable for traditional towers, not competing directly with satellite services.
  • Aggressive expansion plans include setting up an assembly line in Kenya and growing its workforce significantly to support global operations.

Aalto's Strategic Expansion

Aalto HAPS, previously known as Airbus HAPS Connectivity Solutions, is actively seeking investors to scale its operations and launch commercial services by early 2026. The company, which specializes in solar-powered, fixed-wing drones operating above 60,000 feet, aims to diversify its investment portfolio beyond its parent company, Airbus. Chief Executive Samer Halawi highlighted the potential for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) or a merger and acquisition (M&A) transaction as possible future steps for making the company publicly accessible. Aalto has already engaged with selected customers, including the British Ministry of Defence and companies in Japan and Saudi Arabia, indicating a proactive approach to building revenue and client relationships ahead of its official service launch.

Unique Market Positioning

Despite the crowded market for connectivity and Earth observation services, Aalto distinguishes itself by targeting a specific niche. The company's drones are designed to provide coverage in areas with enough population density to require service but where traditional network towers are not economically viable. This approach positions Aalto not in direct competition with satellite operators like SES or Starlink but as a complementary service that offers mobile operators a "tower service." The drones' ability to cover an area equivalent to up to 250 ground towers, without the need for expensive satellite dishes, underscores Aalto's unique value proposition in the connectivity market.

Operational and Geographic Expansion

Aalto is in the process of establishing operations in favorable locations worldwide, including aggressive efforts to commence flights from Kenya within the year. The company's strategy involves setting up an assembly line in Kenya for manufacturing its aircraft, highlighting a commitment to local development and operational efficiency. Additionally, Aalto is engaging with governments in Latin America and Asia to expand its footprint, demonstrating a global vision for its high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) technology. This geographic and operational expansion is supported by a significant increase in the company's workforce, from 65 employees in July 2022 to over 200, with expectations of reaching the upper hundreds in the coming years.

Management Quotes

  • Samer Halawi, CEO of Aalto:

    "We’re targeting an entry into service in early 2026." "At some point, the company will become publicly accessible… Whether it’s through an IPO or an M&A transaction of some sort. Shareholders will have to decide what is the best outcome at the time, but of course, an IPO is going to be a possibility." "By that time, we will have developed the project to a point where it’s available on a commercial basis to multiple customers around the world with enough of a supply of aircraft." "What we do is very different... We sell the mobile operators a tower service. We do not sell a service directly to an end user on a mountaintop somewhere." "We are working quite aggressively with the Kenyan government to establish as soon as possible so that we can start flying from Kenya this year." "It’s a matter of where we can find the best facilities." "Airbus is really good at the aviation part, so we’re looking to bring telecom partners now into the mix."