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Hellmann Logistics to offer pan-European drone delivery in 2022

Drone developer Dronamics wants to establish 35 droneports across continent

Dronamics says its Black Swan unmanned aircraft can carry 750 pounds of freight a long distance. (Photo: Hellman Worldwide Logistics and Dronamics)

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics said Wednesday it is partnering with Dronamics to develop and commercialize a cross-border drone delivery network for transporting time-critical goods, with commercial unmanned cargo drones flying the first routes as early as next year.

Dronamics’ flagship Black Swan unmanned aircraft is able to carry 772 pounds up to 1,500 miles, enabling same-day shipping over very long distances, the company claims. The company, headquartered in London and Sofia, Bulgaria, initially plans to create a network of droneports at more than 35 airports in 11 European countries.

The drones can reduce delivery cost and emissions by 50 to 80% compared to traditional air cargo, according to the company. Its goal is to provide same-day air transport at the same cost as road freight. 

Hellmann, a major third-party logistics provider based in Osnabrück, said the relationship with Dronamics will allow it to add on-demand air delivery at a competitive cost for shippers that rely on it for integrated logistics services. Last year Hellmann generated $2.8 billion in sales.

Hellmann said it is targeting companies with e-commerce orders, pharmaceuticals, spare parts and goods with speed requirements as potential network users. 

The two companies are working to develop initial routes in Europe, where regulations permit drone operations across the European Union. Dronamics is aiming to be the first company to obtain operational authorization for international unmanned flights across the continent. 

Dronamics says initial operations will likely be based out of Liege Airport in Brussels, which serves as Alibaba’s European hub, as well as Brescia Airport, the national hub for the Italian postal system. It plans to add droneports in cities such as Skövde, Sweden; Seinäjoki, Finland; and Osijek, Croatia. 

“We believe this will be a game changer in logistics,” said Jan Kleine-Lasthues, Hellmann’s chief operating officer for airfreight, in a news release. 

Under the agreement, Dronamics will provide equipment and expertise to operate the drone flights. 

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]