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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 22 No. 8
Wednesday March 1, 2023

Tulsi Bullseye For Dart

Tulsi Mirchandaney

     The theme for International Women’s Month this year is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.”
     Who better to represent air cargo during International Women’s Month 2023 than Tulsi Nowlakha Mirchandaney, who is celebrating over five decades in air cargo. Tulsi is Managing Director and Accountable Manager of Blue Dart Aviation and is our lead off story as we launch Women’s Month 2023.
     Blue Dart is based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India and serves 7 Indian metro cities. Deutsche Post owns a 70% stake in the airline through its subsidiary Blue Dart Express. Blue Dart operates a fleet of 6 B757-200 freighters to leading India cities.
     “The only constant in my 28 years here,” Tulsi said unhesitatingly, “has been the enduring passion and resilience of the people who make up this amazing industry, and who have helped it grow and evolve through decades of varied challenges and turbulence”.
     She began as part of the project team that launched Blue Dart Aviation in 1996.
     Looking back, Tulsi believes that the vision of the founders to have taken a leap of faith to launch a domestic cargo airline resource was courageous and insightful.
     ‘What was conceived and achieved for India was revolutionary.
     “That meant bridging the gap of high-performance service across the entire logistics chain with Air Express, and the use of proprietary technology.
     “Air express existed back then but shippers had to face the unreliable bellyhold capacity of passenger airlines,” Tulsi said.
     She recounts that the “first and last mile elements for the door-to-door service had been tried and tested over the years, but what was missing was the air infrastructure support which we planned to bridge.
     “Our team worked hard to establish indigenous capability in aircraft maintenance, ground handling, security and the entire gamut of services that delivered high standards of service quality to our offering.
     “The beginning,” Tulsi smiled, “was not without challenges as the learning curve was steep and not without its share of impediments.
     “As a first stand-alone, all-cargo airline, Blue Dart had to handle demands for its unique-to-the market model of operations.
     “We began with a small fleet of two B737-200 freighters.
     “They were operated from basic facilities, which put great pressure on the team to maintain consistent, high performance delivery.
     “Our success came through great teamwork and ‘can-do’ spirit that never failed to come up with solutions that have become an intrinsic part of The Blue Dart team’s culture to this day.
     “We scripted a milestone in Indian aviation history with the establishment of India’s first domestic cargo airline,” she smiles.
     “Now 28 years later, we are still the only scheduled domestic cargo airline in the country.
     “It makes all of us in Blue Dart proud.
     “For me personally, it’s been a passage of great pride and purpose.

Blue Dart b757-200F

     “Today, the team can boast of newer, dedicated airside facilities, higher capacity, more fuel-efficient B757 freighters and a larger workforce.
     “During the pandemic, unlike other sectors, for the Blue Dart team there was no ‘work from home.’
     “We sustained operations of our scheduled flights, and international charters in addition, and the lights never went out at our facilities.
     “We delivered to the same service quality benchmarks that we offered pre-pandemic. Blue Dart supported the Indian government, several state governments, local municipalities, hospitals, and research institutions. Essential and non-essential supplies continued to be delivered across the country through Blue Dart’s strong air and ground express network,” she said.
     “Blue Dart launched its international operations for the first time as part of the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation’s ‘Lifeline Udaan’ initiative, uplifting emergency supplies, operating to China (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan and Chengdu), Hong Kong, Myanmar, Hanoi and Dhaka.
     “We re-set to the ‘Improvise – Adapt -Overcome’ mode, which included daily calls by the leadership team with the operating units, contactless and OTP delivery.
     “This allowed us to navigate the pandemic efficiently.
     “Our BCCP, assessing our systems and processes on a real time basis, enhanced our seamless services,” she said.
     A keen analyst of air cargo in the country, Tulsi noted that post-Covid, “freight movements that had been impacted by the pandemic have now reached pre-pandemic levels.
     “Blue Dart’s air and ground package handling capacity is on track, and the company has initiated action to build further infrastructure.
     “And, the results are there for all to see: In 2022, total cargo volume in the country increased by 27% over the previous year, with international cargo increasing by 29% and domestic cargo increasing by 24%.”
     Looking ahead,Tulsi is confident that India’s air cargo transportation industry is well positioned to scale up further, thanks largely to the rising demand in ecommerce.
     “The last two years have signalled a clear shift, from manufacturing cycles to mindsets, and businesses of all sizes have had to respond to changing global market dynamics. The ability to remain agile and move products, materials, and supplies swiftly, in line with shorter planning cycles, requires an equally agile supply chain and air cargo infrastructure. This bodes well for air cargo and logistics,” she predicts.
     Blue Dart has been focusing to extend its presence to the Tier II and III markets. As she put it: “We are a part of the largest and most comprehensive express and logistics network worldwide, covering over 220 countries and territories.
     “Our six B757s have proven to be real workhorses for Blue Dart – especially during the pandemic.
     The fleet will soon be augmented with two B737-800 freighters
     “The upcoming challenge,” Tulsi Mirchandaney said “will be to create capacity and cost-efficient logistics solutions at Tier-2 and Tier-3 airports to feed into domestic hubs and international gateways, support the market reach and extend the catchment area.”
     She points out that the country’s state governments and 3PL service providers have come together to try and embrace innovative solutions to address this challenge.
     As example, The government has designed the LEEP (Logistics Efficiency Enhancement Program) to improve logistics efficiency using infrastructure solutions such as creating 35 multimodal logistics parks, with technology and digital solutions like goods tracking.
     Elsewhere in 2023 Tulsi said that she believes what has not changed is the intent of every business to succeed.
     “This drives meritocracy,” she says, adding “more and more Indian leaders, I sense understand and appreciate employees, regardless of whether they are men or women, who help them achieve their business goals.
     “I do not believe women would wish to see their worth devalued by a tag of ‘special category’ . . . Pilots, engineers, courier personnel—all three seemingly male bastions of the air cargo segment—have increasingly seen more women make their mark.
     “Blue Dart is setting an example by leading the way,” she said.
     Tulsi Mirchandaney says that it is up to employers to create a safe, equitable and inclusive workplace that encourages women and men to deliver service to the customers that in return will make their organizations successful.

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