Backed By Viva Air Investor Irelandia Aviation, Skyports Lands Ambitious Commercial Drone Operations In Colombia
London, UK-based commercial drone operator Skyports has created a joint venture with Aviation Venture Capital and development firm Irelandia Aviation to introduce drone deliveries to Colombia and Latin America. The joint venture seeks to bring an innovative, fast, frequent and reliable logistics service to Colombia, providing a cost-effective solution to connecting Colombia’s rural communities.
The joint venture will be led by Skyports’ Colombia General Manager, Daniel Salamanca, who brings a track record of drone delivery experience and expertise to the project. Salamanca was also the first to receive approval for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights in Colombia on the Pacific Coast, where he worked with the national government and the presidency to transport blood samples from rural areas into central hospitals. These drone delivery trials benefited more than 1,200 people and waiting times for laboratory results was reduced by more than 75 percent.
Skyports is backed by Irelandia Aviation, which also is the largest shareholder of Colombia’s Viva Air.
The Skyports medical drone delivery trials will be the first of their kind for Colombia, with flights expected to commence around mid-2022. Drone delivery operations will be launched across remote areas of Colombia including La Guajira and Chocó, with a focus on carrying critical health supplies such as vaccines, pathology samples and HIV tests. The drones to be used on this project are provided by Australian drone company Swoop Aero and can carry up to 5kg as far as 180km in harsh environments such as high altitudes, wind and rain.
The joint venture will build on from Skyports’ successful proof of concept trials which took place earlier this year, where Skyports partnered with the UK’s National Health Service in rural Scotland, transporting COVID-19 test samples, vital PPE and other medical materials by drone between medical facilities in isolated and difficult to reach areas. The successful trials reduced end-to-end delivery time by almost 95 percent – from what would have taken on average 20 hours through conventional delivery methods to just one hour via drone delivery.
“We’re excited about collaborating with Skyports on this joint venture and bringing our heritage in cutting-edge aviation, expertise of working closely with regulators, and market intellect to this partnership. This is just the start of our expansion into wider LATAM and we look forward to announcing more countries soon,” said Declan Ryan, chairman of Irelandia Aviation.
Irelandia, the world’s premier low-cost airline developer brings its deep aviation expertise to the partnership, through its previous ownership of leading airlines Ryanair, Tiger Air, Allegiant and Viva Aerobus. Irelandia’s current airline is Colombia’s second largest international airline Viva Air, based in Medellín. The Irish company has extensive expertise in regulations, flight operations and commercialization, which will be a key asset for this project.
“Colombia is an incredibly exciting market for Skyports and one that is fundamentally important to us. Our drone delivery operations are not just about commercial gains, but also about connecting rural communities with the necessities of life, such as healthcare and logistics. It’s our aim that people receive the same level of healthcare, everywhere in the world, regardless of where they live,” said Duncan Walker, CEO and Founder of Skyports.