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   Vol. 17 No. 46
Monday July 30, 2018

Air India Back To Freighters?

     Hot on the heels of news that financially beleaguered Air India has not been able to find a buyer as it tries to sell itself, (see our story) there are reports, that the carrier is mulling starting up all cargo freighter operations.
     Where it would get the finances for the induction and operation of freighters is a question that only Air India can answer.
     Air India's Executive Commercial Director (Cargo), Abhay Pathak was quoted saying that the carrier is thinking freighters.
     “We can really use them for places like Hong Kong International and Shanghai Pudong, as well as connecting Dhaka and Colombo to the USA, “ he said.
     “The requirement will not be less than a daily 747 freighter to Europe and the U.S.”
Air India would lease aircraft.
     Air India said that it moves around 250,000 tons of cargo per annum but is looking to boost that to 350,000 tons in the next few years.

India Freighters First

     For the record, Air India was the first scheduled passenger airliner in the country to start freighter operations in 2008.
     In January 2012, when Air India pulled down the shutters on its cargo freighters, very few were surprised.
     Earlier in 2010, the carrier took the decision to sell all its six B737-200 freighters in a move that was aimed at curtailing losses and raising money to run the airline.
     Publicly the carrier said that the aircraft were “too big for the domestic market and too small for international business”.
     Fact is, that at Air India, the cargo business was not making any money; it was incurring losses.
     Six aircraft, all owned by the erstwhile Indian Airlines, had been converted to freighters.
     The AI freighter fleet at its height was comprised of 10 planes (A310s and B737s), all ready to take off once the Nagpur hub opened for business.
     But reality put the Nagpur plan on the back burner.
     Three of the B737s had been operating charter flights for the government’s postal services, India Post.
     With the decision to get out of freighters, India Post had to reframe its plans.
Tirthankar Ghosh

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