No-frills airline SpiceJet will launch its dedicated air cargo services from September 18. The carrier which is working on ambitious business plans, Monday said it would operate the cargo services under the brand name ‘SpiceXpress’ and has a detailed plan for domestic as well as international routes. SpiceJet would be the first schedule domestic airline to start dedicated air cargo services in India. A Boeing 737-700 plane has been inducted as the first freighter aircraft. The airline would launch Spice eXpress operations on September 18 and the first flight would be from the national capital to Bengaluru, an airline official said.
The aircraft taken on operating lease has capacity for 20 tonnes of cargo, the official added. “To begin with the air cargo operations will cover Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hong Kong, Kabul and Amritsar,” the airline said in a release. According to the airline, the air cargo services would boost its ancillary business growth. SpiceJet plans to have an “air cargo fleet with the first four freighters scheduled to be inducted in FY 2019,” the release said.
The fleet of freighters would consist of Boeing 737 planes and would be “operated on an incremental direct operating cost model”. SpiceJet would utilise common pool of resources like pilots, engineers, ground staff and airport infrastructure for the cargo services. Among other items, the airline said it would ship perishables like farm fresh fruits and vegetables to the Middle East. The air cargo traffic in the country is expected to grow by 60 percent in the next five years as per estimates. SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said there is a huge untapped market for air cargo services in India. “With our proven operational capability, this is an extension of our ‘belly cargo’ service to a ‘dedicated freighter’ with Boeing 737 aircraft,” he said.
At present, SpiceJet’s existing fleet has a cargo capacity of about 500 tonnes per day. “With the launch of the dedicated freighter service this capacity would go up to 900 tonnes a day in a phased manner with the addition of four freighters by March 2019,” the airline said. With a fleet of 36 planes, SpiceJet operates an average of 412 flights daily to 54 destinations.