Friday, November 13, 2020

India needs more major air cargo hubs to attract transhipment traffic

India’s airlines and airports need more international cargo to meet the country’s ambitious throughput targets, say stakeholders.

The goal for India’s airports is to handle 10m tonnes of cargo a year by 2027 – almost triple the current rate.

And Sanjiv Gupta, CEO of cargo carrier SpiceXpress, cautioned that domestic cargo alone wouldn’t be enough, adding on a webinar by Transport Logistic: ““We have to change our approach and become the preferred transhipment hub between South-east Asia and and the west.”

SpiceXpress, the cargo arm of low-cost carrier Spicejet, has rapidly expanded operations this year, claiming to have emerged as “India’s largest cargo airline” after lifting 50,000 tonnes during its first financial quarter, ending June.

With a fleet of nine freighters, the carrier is making inroads with international cargo, recently adding several long-haul routes to Europe, Africa, China and Central Asia, but Mr Gupta said Indian airlines were still “punching well below their weight”.

He explained: “They really have to wake up and understand the potential of international cargo; it’s the hidden jewel of cargo business in terms of profit. However, right now 95% is handled by international carriers.

“But we can change that to a 50:50 split in two-three years if Indian carriers do their fleet planning for cargo. Then we can become a formidable player in international cargo markets.”

Indeed, in September, India’s civil aviation department restricted non-scheduled freighter flights by international carriers to six airports, hoping to ensure “equal opportunity” for national airlines.

13/11/20 Sam Whelan/Loadstar

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