The world’s first drone cargo airline, Dronamics, and Qatar Airways have announced an interline agreement. This initiative marks the first between an international airline and a drone cargo airline. 

The agreement will allow both parties to extend their delivery networks. Dronamics co-founder and CEO Svilen Rangelov welcomes this first-of-its-kind collaboration. “While currently less than 1% of global trade moves by air, the vast global reach of Qatar Airways Cargo and their world-leading capacity and service give us the perfect platform to massively expand air cargo accessibility to countless more communities worldwide, enabling same-day delivery for everyone, everywhere,” he says. 

Same-day delivery

Dronamics will start operations in Greece with a focus on same-day delivery to Athens. The agreement will also see Dronamics operate in Qatar Airways’ wider network including Singapore and the US. 

Senior VP Cargo Sales & Network Planning at Qatar Airways Cargo Elisabeth Oudkerk says the company wants to be at the forefront of embracing new technology. “It is a significant milestone in the advancement of autonomous cargo drone transportation, and we are proud to be the first international airline to offer this service,” she says. 

Long-range cargo delivery 

In November 2022, Dronamics received a €2.5 million ($2.72 million) grant from the European Commission under the prestigious European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program. The grant supports the development and roll-out of its cargo drone fleet. 

“The inspiration for starting Dronamics came from the desire of two brothers, Konstantin and Svilen Rangelov desire to find a quicker and more cost-effective way of delivering cargo.  Dronamics is a leading developer and operator of large, long-range drones built specifically for cargo. Its operations encompass drone aircraft design, construction, operation, and the creation of Droneports. 

In May 2023, the company completed the first flight of its flagship aircraft, Black Swan. It has a cargo capacity of 350kg with a range of 2,500 kilometers. This is equivalent to New York City to Austin, all of Europe, all of the Caribbean, Hong Kong to Osaka, and Dubai to New Delhi. Black Swan is remotely piloted, suitable for long-range cargo delivery. 

Fleet management 

Last month Dronamics announced a partnership with Aramex. This will see cargo flights take place with Dronamics technology and Aramex’s fleet management expertise. Together the companies will explore drone delivery opportunities. Dronamics’ technology will allow Aramex to have same-day, middle-mile, and long-distance deliveries.

There are several reasons drones are being used to deliver packages/cargo. The standout has to be speed of delivery. Drones fly above ground and are not restricted by traffic. Another factor is deliveries will not be hampered by the issue of labor shortages, and they may be in flight during a lunch hour, where a person has to take breaks – the drone does not. 

Drones are cost effective. Imagine a courier fleet’s fuel bill at the end of each month. The drone does not travel on roads, so there is less wear and tear on the drone as opposed to a vehicle which may be stranded at a service center for a particular problem. Vehicle repairs can be costly. In addition, drones do not emit toxic fumes. 

About the author

Sharl is a qualified journalist. He has over 10 years’ experience in the media industry, including positions as an editor of a magazine and Business Editor of a daily newspaper. Sharl also has experience in logistics specifically operations, where he worked with global food aid organisations distributing food into Africa. Sharl enjoys writing business stories and human interest pieces.