Air Canada Cargo embraces drone delivery

Air Canada Cargo embraces drone delivery

Caption: Air Canada Cargo embraces drone delivery

Air Canada is leveraging its knowledge moving cargo to support drone deliveries and expand business in the fertile e-commerce sector. Japan Airlines is also involved in a drone delivery project and Astral Aviation in Kenya has set up a drone division.

Air Canada officials said during a Nov. 9 call with analysts to discuss third quarter earnings that the entry into e-commerce will take Air Canada Cargo “to the next level.” The statement, which didn’t come with any details, most likely referred to the airline’s partnership with Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) and several early-stage projects it has brokered.

Air Canada is acting as a sales agent for DDC, a technology company that doesn’t have experience operating delivery networks or Air Canada’s extensive relationships with express delivery companies and logistics providers that purchase freight transportation. As a freight intermediary, Air Canada avoids the risk of investing in a complex technology itself while picking up revenue from the high-growth e-commerce market.

On Friday, DDC announced it has signed a letter of intent with CSC Drone Aviation to jointly explore market opportunities in India and finalize a deal for operating DDC’s Condor heavy-lift drone once aviation authorities establish safety rules for the industry. The Condor, DDC’s largest unmanned aerial vehicle, can handle payloads of 400 pounds and travel 124 miles at up to 75 mph. The multi package cargo deck is designed to carry about 20 cubic feet of cargo.

The drone logistics company expects to complete Condor testing in the fourth quarter in preparation for commercial deployment next year, starting with vaccine distribution and deliveries in rural areas.

DDC said the Condor has multiple use cases ranging from first-mile/last-mile cargo delivery to oil, gas and mining projects, shore-to-ship logistics and humanitarian aid.