The WeCargo Airport Innovation Lab and Summit took place on the 7th to 14th November in Belgium. In attendance were key leading cargo professionals and potential investors looking for ideas and opportunities that will mark the Air Cargo industry of tomorrow. In attendance was Astral Ariel, the Nairobi-based drone services company.
Geoffrey Nyaga, The Chief Operating Officer, gave a pitch on the progress of the African startup thus far. He shared a recollection of how the company’s co-founders participated in delivering relief aid to affected areas during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) three years ago. They primarily relied on fixed-wing aircraft to make deliveries to the nearest airports.
Unfortunately, the poor infrastructure, insecurity and hostile weather conditions in those remote areas only made the situation worse. Some reports indicated that it would take 10 days or so to transport vital aid from the airports to the intended destinations. That experience was an eyeopener on the limited access to Air Cargo by many across the globe, and motivation behind the business venture.
Astral is a key partner in the Last-Mile Delivery project and even plans to venture further into the delivery of critical equipment and medical supplies to inaccessible areas. A major highlight in their fleet is the Flyox cargo drone which stands out as the world’s largest unmanned civilian aircraft with a carrying capacity of 1850 kg. It is also amphibious, meaning it can land on water.
When compared to manned aircraft, the drone is way cheaper to operate. Truck or rail transport is fair competition, but the drone outperforms them in time-bound deliveries.
Presently, Astral Aerial is engaging organizations such as The World Food Program and partnering with the Kenya Post Office. They will be looking for a series A funding which will open up during the second quarter of 2020.
More on the pitch below: