Following the arrival of its first A321F last month, IndiGo completed full registration. This aircraft will gradually be deployed on international routes, as will the second aircraft, which is anticipated to arrive later this year.
On the initial voyage, the aircraft, which has been converted from a passenger jet to a full freighter configuration, will carry general freight; on the return trip, it will carry general and e-commerce goods. On each leg of these inaugural flights, the payload will weigh more than 20 tonnes.
“We are excited at kicking off a new chapter in IndiGo’s journey with the inaugural CarGo flights. Delhi and Mumbai are the two biggest commercial hubs in the country, and the response we have received from customers for our service offering is very encouraging. We expect the business to grow over the coming few months, as we expand our fleet of freighters and add new destinations to our CarGo network.”–Mahesh Malik, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo CarGo
The most effective narrow-bodied freighter on the market, the A321P2F (Passenger-to-Freighter conversion) has 24 places for containers and can carry up to 27 tonnes of payload, nearly double the belly capacity of a standard A321.
As part of a project, ST Engineering and Airbus’ joint venture, Elbe FlugzeugWerke, is converting the aircraft (EFW). As a member of a global alternative investment organisation with 17 years of experience investing in, financing, and managing aviation assets, Castlelake Aviation Holdings (Ireland) Ltd., which is a subsidiary of IndiGo, has leased the plane from funds it manages.
During the COVID pandemic, IndiGo first considered the idea of a dedicated cargo fleet after understanding the market’s untapped potential and the lack of any large cargo competitors in India. One of the effects of the COVID pandemic on the airline industry was the growth of the cargo market in India.
IndiGo welcomed its first A321F freighter aircraft on September 28, 2022.
A little under 15 years old, the aircraft (VT-IKW) was initially delivered to Aeroflot in 2007. It has flown for many airlines throughout the years, most recently with Aviaon Express Malta.
Three further converted A321s will be delivered to IndiGo, which intends to utilise them for both domestic and international flights.
“We are pleased to receive our first A321 freighter aircraft in 6Efleet … The CarGo business brought in revenues when scheduled commercial flights were at standstill. Our partnership with the Airbus for Freighter programme will further help strengthen our business in the CarGo segment, and act as a strong engine of economic growth for the country.”––Mahesh Malik, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo CarGo
Data from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) shows that all operational airports handled 3.14 million tonnes of freight in 2021–22, or 94% of the freight handled in 2017–18, while air passenger traffic, at 85.1 million, was 69% of the traffic recorded in FY18.
This indicates that the cargo segment in India has fared even better than the passenger side.
(Feature Image – Shrey Chopra)