Looking to tap the potential of the cargo segment in India, IndiGo will strengthen its cargo operations further later this year by introducing another aircraft to support its freight business. The airline has plans to include a total of four converted A321 aircraft.
Supporting its all-cargo operations, IndiGo will induct another Airbus A321P2F (Passenger To Freighter) aircraft by December. The first of such planes joined the carrier’s fleet in September, and three more will join progressively over the coming months.5
“On our Cargo operations, volumes have been increasing owing to our sheer network presence and we remain optimistic. CarGo “belly” capacity will be further augmented with the introduction of the first Airbus 321 freighter and we are also expecting second such aircraft to be operational by December.”Pieter Elbers, CEO, Indigo
He added that the dedicated cargo fleet will give the airline an added advantage on costs but also enable it uniquely to service markets like China, Vietnam, the Middle East, and certain CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries.
The A321P2F is part of Airbus’ larger cargo strategy, which is being worked upon through a program involving Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmBH, the joint venture company of Singapore’s ST Engineering and Airbus. The aircraft can carry 27 tonnes of cargo, nearly double the belly capacity of a standard A321.
Other players foray into cargo operations
Undergoing a cargo expansion phase, India’s domestic cargo sector has lately been joined by many other players.
Last month, Pradhaan Air, officially began commercial service with a domestic flight between Delhi (DEL) and Mumbai (BOM). The airline operates the world’s first converted Airbus A320 freighter and will receive another one in the coming months.
In August, Simple Flying also reported that QuikJet Airlines, an ex-Indian cargo-only carrier, was preparing for a return to Indian skies. As per sources, QuikJet 2.0 would fly Amazon Prime airplanes in India and that the airline has already taken its first aircraft, a 20-year-old Boeing 737-800 P2F.
Indigo’s direct competitor and India’s budget carrier, SpiceJet, is also trying to capture the cargo sector with SpiceXpress, a cash-positive enterprise with a net profit of $5.6 million.
It was during COVID that cargo opened up several possibilities for Indian carriers to generate revenue. IndiGo, too, started toying with the idea of a dedicated cargo fleet around the same time.
The data from Airports Authority of India (AAI) reveals that the cargo segment in India has had it better than the passenger side. As per the data all operational airports handled 3.14 million tonnes of freight in 2021-22, or 94% of freight handled in 2017-18, while air passenger traffic at 85.1 million was 69% of the traffic recorded in FY18.
While slowdown in exports has affected the air cargo market in the country, airlines remain hopeful of making long-term gains on the back of establishing freight operations over the next few years.