Wingcopter announces slew of global partnerships
Zeitfracht Group, German Airlines to buy 17 Wingcopter 198 delivery drones. Japan-based ITOCHU joins Wingcopter programme as specialised distributor and lessor
Wingcopter on Wednesday announced that Zeitfracht Group, a German logistics and aviation company, and its affiliate German Airways will be among the first firms in the world to commercially use drones in logistics.
The firms have committed to purchase 17 Wingcopter 198 delivery drones and gain options to order an additional 115 drones in two tranches by the end of 2023 in a joint agreement of intent with the German manufacturer Wingcopter. The planes will start flying in the second half of 2024, starting off the coast, delivering replacement components to wind farms and will take off from Rostock Airport.
Wolfram Simon-Schröter, CEO of Zeitfracht, said, "At the Zeitfracht Group, we are very creative and always interested in using new technologies in a market-leading way. We believe the time is now ripe for the commercial use of drones, for example for the delivery of spare parts to offshore wind farms. With German Airways, our Rostock Airport and the experience of our shipping company OPUS in delivery operations on the high seas, together with Wingcopter we have the ideal prerequisites to drive this technology a huge step forward."
German Airways already meets fundamental requirements to operate Wingcopter's delivery drones in the "particular category" and, eventually, in the "certified category" because it holds an Air Operator Certificate (AOC).
"With the planned supply flights to ships and offshore wind farms, we will tap into a new, fast-growing field of application for which the Wingcopter 198 is ideally suited thanks to its high efficiency, even in extreme weather conditions. In addition, the test site and the close cooperation offer the opportunity to jointly develop further promising business areas," remarked Tom Plümmer, co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter.
Japanese entity joins Wingcopter Program
On Tuesday, Wingcopter signed a strategic collaboration with ITOCHU Corporation. ITOCHU joined Wingcopter's Authorised Partnership Program (WAPP) as a specialised distributor and lessor in Japan for the Wingcopter 198 – the company's latest eVTOL delivery drone. Apart from this, the Japanese company has also opted to invest strategically in Wingcopter.
ITOCHU is one of the major Japanese general trading enterprises – colloquially known as 'sogo shosha' – with 125,000 workers worldwide and an annual trading income of USD 93 billion.
Takanori Morita, executive officer of ITOCHU and CEO of ITOCHU Europe PLC commented, "Drone delivery has the potential to revolutionise how we transport goods, and it can immediately improve the quality of life for people worldwide. We believe Wingcopter is best positioned to become the market leader in this field with its superb product as well as capable and dedicated team. Ever since our establishment in 1858, Itochu's corporate mission has been the spirit of 'Sampo-Yoshi', which translates to 'good for the seller, buyer and the society'. Wingcopter's business epitomises this spirit."
Given Japan's innovative attitude to integrating drones into everyday life, the cooperation with ITOCHU will help Wingcopter expand in Japan, which will be one of the most significant markets for drone delivery in the future.
About the development, Plümmer said they expected Japan to become one of the most important regions for drone delivery applications in the coming years. "We are therefore convinced that ITOCHU, with the network and expertise in a huge variety of business sectors as well as the financial power of a Fortune Global 500 company, will help us serve more Japanese customers and allow us to jointly scale Wingcopter's operations across Japan."
Wingcopter is looking to onboard new partners, based on an increasing number of partnership requests, to continue extending Wingcopter's global reach.