By Rohit Vaid
NEW DELHI: Seeing a tremendous growth in the cargo segment, airline major IndiGo might add freighter aircraft in its fleet.
Industry insiders told IANS that the airline is evaluating a proposal to add freighter aircraft, which will help the company expand cargo services to China, Singapore and Malaysia in the near future.
The move to haul more cargo via freighters assumes significance as the segment has seen a massive demand surge due to the pandemic.
When contacted the company did not elicit a response.
According to industry insiders, with air passenger numbers expected to remain low, the industry is look at other avenues to augment revenues such as the dedicated Cargo services.
In the initial days of the lockdown, the sudden demand for freight and high charges allowed airlines to gain some revenue.
This trend is expected to continue.
At present, the airline continues with “CarGo in cabin” operations.
These type of services are expected to be retained even after resumption of full schedule.
Currently, the airline has 10 passenger aircraft completely deployed for cargo operations in freighter mode.
The airline has managed to earn marginally higher revenue within the last five to six months at limited capacity as compared to the last financial year.
It has already transported cargo equivalent to the loads carried in the last financial year.
Till September, the airline has operated over 1,700 cargo charters, transporting more than 14,300 MT of supplies since April 18th across 21 destinations within India and internationally, including new stations like Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Cairo in Egypt, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
Besides, the move allows it to become the only second player in the airline industry that has freighter aircraft in its fleet.
The proposal also provides the airline with a differentiated service standards than the aircraft belly space provide in other type of passenger planes.
Such a differentiated standard would include temperature controlled cargo service essential for ferrying vaccines and perishable items.
The airline has been an active participant in the Centre’s ‘Lifeline Udan’ scheme.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at email@example.com)