Earlier this month, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted exemptions to 13 groups to operate drones on an experimental basis.

A SpiceJet passenger Boeing 737-800 aircraft takes off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad, (Photo: Reuters/Representational image)

Budget airline SpiceJet Ltd said on Friday it received permission to conduct drone trials that will allow it to deliver medical supplies and e-commerce products as a months-long lockdown has thrown supply chains in the country into disarray.

Earlier this month, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) granted exemptions to 13 groups to operate drones on an experimental basis.

After trials, SpiceXpress, the airline’s cargo arm, will focus on delivering medical emergency parcels and essential supplies including perishables, SpiceJet said.

“Testing of drone technology for last-mile connectivity and cost-effective cargo deliveries are a big leap in the air transportation of essential and non-essential supplies in India,” SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said in a statement.

A SpiceXpress-led consortium, which includes drone maker Throttle Aerospace, was granted permission to operate drones beyond the visual sight of the operator on a trial basis, the airlines operator said in an email.

It did not specify when it will begin the trials.

India’s lockdown, the world’s biggest and strictest when it began, triggered a surge in demand for home delivery of household goods, food and medicines as the coronavirus crisis deepened. The government has since eased some of the restrictions, including passenger flights.

Earlier this month, Amazon.com Inc’s India unit said it would hire 50,000 temporary workers to meet a surge in online shopping in the country.

SpiceJet said its drones would help deliver essential supplies to the remotest corners of the country.

The company did not immediately respond to an email seeking further details on the trials.

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