Cargo has always been a successful but small part of IndiGo’s business. IndiGo operated over 1,700 cargo charters, transporting more than 14,300 MT of supplies since April 18, 2020 till September 7, 2020. Willy Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo, talks about cargo operations of the airline during the pandemic.
Q What are your thoughts on air cargo and its critical role in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and how do you plan your cargo operations in the current pandemic?
This is an unprecedented situation in airline business and like everyone IndiGo has been affected too. Through this period, cargo has been a leading light; we have started operating cargo in cabin freighters. Cargo has always been a successful but small part of IndiGo’s business, yet, it has provided some welcome revenue to us over the past five months and recently we have been operating 500 cargo charters in a month.
In line with our mission to support the nation, IndiGo operated over 1,700 cargo charters, transporting more than 14,300 MT of supplies since April 18, 2020 till September 7, 2020. The cargo charter flights operated across 21 destinations within India and internationally, including new stations like Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Cairo in Egypt, Almaty in Kazakhstan and Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
We have earned marginally higher revenue over the last five months as compared to the earnings over the last financial year. Furthermore, at only 32 per cent of operations in August 2020, IndiGo successfully managed to generate the highest ever monthly net revenue with January being the last top earning month.
Q Any possibility of coming up with cargo only flights?
With 250 aircraft; A321, A320 and ATRs, we create sufficient amount of belly space on a daily basis and hence we haven’t felt the need to introduce freighter aircraft. We are already the largest domestic cargo operator in India in terms of tonnage. Presently, we have 10 cargo in cabin aircraft and we will maintain these aircraft as the market develops after things return to normal.
Q The airline has recently transported blood plasma from Bengaluru to Srinagar. Please elaborate. Were the challenges different from transporting other temperature sensitive products?
We are very pleased to take part in the movement of blood plasma. Since it’s not the first time that we have been involved in flying urgent medical supplies or cargo related to health, we have not faced any particular challenge and we look forward to carrying urgent medical supplies in the same way.
There are two ways, in cargo business, of providing cold chain or temperature-controlled environment; cold active and cold passive. At the moment, we rely on the passive angle where if medical supplies of pharmaceuticals require lower temperature then we deliver it through working with the shipper and make sure that the packaging done by the shipper is capable of maintaining the lower temperature. Later, we will invest in the active cold chain in which containers will have their own air conditioning facility.