Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) is putting its money into airships as a way to offload freight in remote areas.

The French shipowner, with a mixed fleet of 100 vessels, has formed a partnership with Franco-Canadian pioneer Flying Whales to commercialise the air cargo solution.

The service will be based on the LCA60T airship, which will have a payload of 60 tonnes.

“The LCA60T is an innovative transport solution that can operate in remote areas where roads are not available, thanks to its hovering capabilities,” LDA said.

“It is also a very interesting solution for oversized cargoes that are particularly difficult to transport via common roads or railways.”

Larger cargoes can be carried underneath the craft using slings.

The airship is 200 metres long and 50 metres wide and will contain 180,000 cbm of helium.

The use of helium reduces energy consumption and lowers CO2 emissions.

Flying Whales is also working on an all-electric propulsion system based on the use of green hydrogen, either via fuel cells or helium injected into the turbines.

“Choosing to partner with Flying Whales is totally in line with LDA’s ambition to decarbonise transport and logistics,” said its president, Edouard Louis-Dreyfus.

“By combining our expertise, we want to offer an innovative solution capable of solving particular issues that oversized cargoes face on the first and last miles of their voyage.”

The airship was originally designed to meet the needs of renewable wood resource exploitation in hard-to-reach areas.