IndiGo likely to add another ‘wing to its flight’, CarGo airplane spotted in Singapore

In a bid to ace its air cargo game, IndiGo Airlines – the InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. operated carrier – said last year that it planned to source four converted A321 airplanes, which can each carry 27 tonnes, for full-time cargo operations on both domestic and international routes. While the delivery of these planes, each of which can carry 27 tonnes, was expected in 2022-23, just last week an IndiGo CarGo branded freighter was spotted at the Seletar Airport in Singapore. It seems that IndiGo is going to add another ‘wing to its flight’ sooner than expected. The CarGo freighters are IndiGo’s step towards entering and making a mark in the air cargo industry’s post pandemic boom.

IndiGo’s CarGo plane, registered as 9H-AMQ, is an Airbus SE A321 and has historically been used by carriers like Aeroflot PJSC, Lithuanian group Avion Express UAB and Thomas Cook Airlines. An IndiGo representative mentioned that delivery to India was likely to be in August 2022 although a precise date has yet to be advised. The plane is being transformed for IndiGo CarGo by Singapore Technologies Engineering Limited and was spotted at their hangar at Seletar.

Pre-pandemic, around 60% of all international air-cargo capacity flew in the holds of passenger jets, according to the IATA, however, the global air cargo industry witnessed a demand intensification soon after the pandemic but the passenger traffic came to a complete halt. In order to save the day for most airlines and also to address this cargo demand surge, many airlines converted their passenger aircrafts into freighters – or pfreighters – pulling out seats to make space for packages and boxes inside their main cabins.

IndiGo’s first cargo-only aircraft, the Airbus A321P2F is a by-product of such conversion process and could be seen wearing the IndiGo CarGo-branded livery with a registration 9H-AMQ, which means it is currently registered in Malta. With its planned dedicated cargo fleet, IndiGo is flying towards the bull’s eye, leveraging the absence of any significant air cargo players in India.

Cargo opened up several possibilities for Indian carriers during COVID to generate revenue, with IndiGo, too, flying hundreds of cargo-only flights before deciding to go for cargo-dedicated planes. While foreign airlines still account for a significant chunk of international cargo capacity in India, major carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet jumping into the fray could change that in the years to come.

IndiGo witnessed huge success for its cargo wing during the pandemic. The airline operated nearly 8000 cargo-in-cabin charter flights carrying PPE kits and testing kits, among other things, during peak pandemic time. The carrier delivers services to 71 cities across India, which also have cargo capability.

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