Building on the success of the CarGo business in recent years, IndiGo has initiated a freighter programme and is in the process of sourcing four Airbus 321ceo aircraft each of which will be converted from passenger jets to a full freighter configuration.
A Letter of Intent (LoI) has been signed with a lessor for two aircraft already, and IndiGo expects to reach agreement for the next two shortly. The initiative will make best use of the natural synergies that IndiGo offers, using the same pool of pilots and engineers that fly and service its current fleet.
The A321P2F (Passenger-to-Freighter conversion) is the most efficient narrow-bodied freighter available, offering 24 container positions and supporting a payload of up to 27 tonnes. These are being converted through a programme involving ST Engineering and Airbus with their joint venture, Elbe FlugzeugWerke (EFW).
Might Consider Sourcing More Aircraft: IndiGo
IndiGo is expected to take the delivery of its first freighter in the first half of 2022, which will be used for both domestic and regional missions. The remaining three aircraft in the initial commitment are expected to arrive within a year or so from arrival of our first freighter, and further aircraft may be sourced depending on market development.
Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer and Wholetime Director, IndiGo said, “CarGo has been a success story over the last year, scaling new heights and creating new records, but our belief in the cargo business goes beyond the special circumstances right now.”
Mr. Dutta informed that IndiGo was already the largest carrier of cargo in domestic India before COVID-19, and they expect the market to continue to grow after the pandemic.
“Our investment in the Airbus Freighter Programme will help strengthen our product and services in the segment, and not only help accelerate our own business recovery but also be a strong engine of economic growth for the country,” he said.
Flew Across 21 Destinations
Last year, IndiGo operated cargo charter flights across 21 destinations within India and to international destinations like Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Cairo in Egypt, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
The airline had said that it flew over 1,700 cargo charter flights, transporting more than 14,300 tonnes of supplies, between April 18 and September 7, 2020. At that time, Mr. Dutta had said that the COVID-induced lockdown this year not only posed a challenge for our business but also turned out to be an opportunity for the CarGo vertical.
“We operated passenger flights in ‘freighter mode’ with cargo secured in the cabins, to domestic and international stations. We have deployed 10 aircraft for cargo operations and will continue this arrangement even after we resume operations at pre-COVID capacities,” he had said.
The A320 Family has been the most successful aircraft family ever and it was born ambitious. As the first civil aircraft to pioneer fly-by-wire technology, it has set the standard ever since its arrival. Thanks to a share of Airbus’ €2.5b annual R&D expenses dedicated to A320 Family continuous incremental developments, the A320 Family continues to innovate.
It comes with a unique Cargo Loading System (CLS) option: it is the only single-aisle aircraft that is able to load pallets and containers on the lower deck. Together with its outward-opening cargo doors and large cargo compartment cross-section, this maximises the usable cargo and accelerates the loading.