IndiGo, India’s largest airline, looks close to inducting its first freighter plane as it seeks to capture the crash in air cargo driven by the pandemic.
Seletar Airport in Singapore
An IndiGo CarGo-branded aircraft was spotted this week at Seletar Airport in Singapore’s northeast. Seletar is a much smaller airport than Changi Airport, serving mainly private jets, and a few regional commercial flights and hosting a hub for maintenance and repair shops.
The dedicated cargo jet, registered as 9H-AMQ, is an Airbus SE A321 that’s previously been operated by carriers including Aeroflot PJSC, Lithuanian group Avion Express UAB and Thomas Cook Airlines, according to Planespotters.net.
IndiGo said delivery to India
International Air Transport Association
Demand for dedicated cargo jets jumped when Covid-19 culled air travel and carriers weren’t able to transport freight in the belly hold of passenger aircraft, which were grounded. Pre-pandemic, around 60% of all international air-cargo capacity flew in the holds of traveler jets, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Carriers resorted to temporarily converting some passenger jets to freighter planes, pulling out seats to carry packages and boxes inside their main cabins.
InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., which manages IndiGo, told last year it prepared to source four converted A321ceo planes, each carrying 27 tonnes, for full-time cargo operations on domestic and international routes. It said it expected to take delivery of its first freighter in the first half of 2022 and the remaining three within a year of that first delivery.
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The aircraft are being converted through a program involving Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH, the joint venture company of Singapore’s ST Engineering and Airbus. The plane spotted by Bloomberg News was in an ST Engineering hanger.
IndiGo Chief Executive Officer Ronojoy Dutta said during the airline’s fourth-quarter earnings call that cargo grew 31% year-over-year. “Cargo is strong and all the signs are there that cargo will continue to be very strong going forward,” Dutta told.
InterGlobe Enterprises Ltd., InterGlobe Aviation’s parent, has also teamed with United Parcel Service Inc. to tap India’s ballooning logistics market. In July, the new brand MOVIN will focus on domestic business-to-business logistics and begin services in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru.
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