This June just past – at the height
of the pandemic lockdown in India – there was a quiet celebration
in the Chennai-based Blue Dart Aviation family (which is part of DHL eCommerce
Solutions) celebrating its 24th anniversary on June 17.
Managing Director Tulsi Nowlakha Mirchandaney
crossed a huge milestone.
Glorious 50 in Love with Aviation
“I celebrated my 50th year this June
in the airline industry! It’s been a host of deeply fulfilling experiences
in various functions. It has often been challenging but I’ve learned
a lot and enjoyed great camaraderie with industry colleagues,” she
said in an in-house interview.”
Tulsi is half an engineer – she followed
her two engineer brothers – but quit three years before graduating.
She then joined Japan Airlines in Kolkata
and later moved to Mumbai. She was with Air France Cargo in Bangalore
and even worked in Delhi and Chennai. The airline jobs were “intended
to fund further studies”. But she fell in love with aviation and
that is where she is now. In between, she attained an MBA degree in International
Aviation from Concordia University, Montreal.
Advocate for Women
An avid advocate of education for women,
she still finds time to take a summer course during her annual holidays
“because I find it rejuvenating. It’s an important part of
one’s professional arsenal and makeup, and I would highly recommend
it to every woman who wishes to challenge herself and explore her full
“You could be pleasantly surprised,”
she said in the interview.
Keeps Looking Up
At Blue Dart, she ensured the phase-outs
of the old fleet of B737-200 freighters and replaced them with B757-200s.
She was part of the Blue Dart team that created aviation history in India
in 1996 when India’s first domestic cargo airline was set up. No
wonder, she believes that “nothing has brought the importance of
air cargo to the fore more acutely than the present Covid-19 pandemic
. . . air cargo remains a strong, underplayed revenue contributor.”
Tons of Essentials
Blue Dart has been at the forefront of transporting
tonnes of essential cargo to keep the critical supply chain functioning
and helping the nation to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Domestic flights apart, Blue Dart’s planes
flew on the Kolkata-Guangzhou, China-Guwahati-Kolkata route, to bring
critical PPE and COVID-19 related medical supplies. The carrier’s
freighters touched Dhaka on the Dhaka-Kolkata route even as they flew
on the Delhi-Guangzhou, China-Delhi, and Kolkata-Guangzhou, China-Kolkata
routes throughout the month of April 2020 and beyond.
Air Cargo & the World at Large
“Air cargo has often been the sole
mode of transportation for relief material during any emergency response
“The visibility of this vital role
has been greatly enhanced because of the extensive grounding of passenger
airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic unified elements of
the aviation industry to respond to an unprecedented crisis, with the
transportation of relief material on freighters and even seats.
“The proven reliability of air cargo
certainly bodes well for the future of business.
“Air freight proved a true lifeline
in these critical times.
“Blue Dart was a part of the Government
of India’s ‘Lifeline Udan’ initiative, and contributed
its effort to the national endeavour in transporting essential goods and
medical equipment. Blue Dart Aviation operated close to 2,800 flight cycles
uplifting 40,000 tonnes of which 970 tonnes were international charters
carrying urgent medical supplies and COVID-19 related relief material
from Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dhaka, Yangon and Hanoi during the
“Among the materials we transported
within India and overseas were medical and pharmaceutical supplies including
ventilators, PPEs, testing kits, reagents, enzymes, respirators, surgical
masks, goggles and gloves.”
Getting Ready For Air Cargo’s
“It is a show business term from the
movies, but the air cargo industry is going to play an incredibly vital
role in the transport of vaccines.
“So we have got to be ready for our
“With the large number of clinical
trials underway to create a potential vaccine candidate for COVID-19,
an influx of business is seen and we expect this to only grow once we
have a successful vaccine.
“Pharmaceutical and life science products
require stringent handling and transport conditions to combat any risk
of loss of potency or efficacy.
“Handling and transporting vaccines
brings in another dimension to supply chain logistics – temperature
controlled logistics (TCL).
“Having a well-oiled system for providing
clients with a seamless TCL service for shipping vaccines, from first
mile to last mile delivery would definitely help cope with the need for
effective deliveries of the vaccine.
“However, the sheer volume of vaccines
envisaged could pose a huge transportation challenge in meeting the urgent
demand. A coordinated, well-planned delivery system would help save lives.
“The infrastructure and resources
critical to the pharmaceutical supply chain will have to be even more
adaptive, lean and agile in the foreseeable future.”
Temperature Controlled Solutions
“At Blue Dart, we have developed a
range of superior Temperature Controlled Solutions that provide our clients
with extensive and reliable express distribution, dry ice supplies including
free top-up replenishments, real-time shipment status information, regulatory
clearance, validation services and project management.
“Not only that, our packaging also
is constructed from recyclable, environmentally-friendly and cost-effective
“Blue Dart’s Temperature Controlled
Logistics offers solutions from packaging to transportation, from direct
distribution of samples, to clinical trial services to ensure that our
clients receive their critical shipments within a committed transit time.”
Industry looking For Guidelines
“We are prepared to handle an increase
in volumes of vaccines and are keen to continue working as the ‘Trade
Facilitator of India’, a role that we have assumed with great fervour
especially over the last few months.
“We are also awaiting the guidelines
that The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) and Pharma.Aero are
developing for the air cargo industry to enable optimal transportation
of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Taking these guidelines into account,
our Blue Darters will be trained and equipped to handle vaccine shipments
Artful Blue Darters
“Blue Dart Aviation readied its international
operations in under a month during this pandemic.
“Gearing up for international operations
meant mandatory avionics upgrades, including installation of advanced
Flight Management Computers, multi-mode GPS receivers and ADS-B transponders.
“It’s a tribute to our entire
team who worked under the severe constraints of a complete lockdown to
meet the compliance requirements for the international operations, and
to finally execute the mission, entailing some prolonged periods away
from family and home,” Tulsi Mirchandaney declared.