INDIAN AIR CARGO SUPPLEMENT~ Air India Cargo charts its own future

Air India Cargo (AIC), now a separate business unit following the merger with the former Indian Airlines, is aiming to build its fleet to 40 dedicated freighters, including up to 22 newbuilds by 2015.

With only five converted freighters comprising its entire fleet at the moment, the expansion 40-plane plan is clearly an ambitious one. Although not new to the cargo business, the carrier had previously relied solely on the belly capacity of its passenger side.

PK Gupta, executive director, sales and marketing (cargo) Air India told Payload in an interview that the cargo unit is currently carrying out market surveys to assess various markets for possible route expansion.

Teams already gone out to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, Tokyo and Osaka with teams preparing to head to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Perth, Sydney, Johannesburg and Durban. Gupta said the carrier is hoping to complete the surveys by end-March.

The cargo carrier aims to be operating to the US within the next 3-4 years, Gupta said.

In the meantime the carrier is discontinuing its Paris route because of pricing issues. Charges by rival carriers like Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are up to 25 per cent lower than what AIC is charging.

Gupta said the A310 freighter used on that route would be shifted to Hong Kong and Singapore effective 5 February pending slot clearance. The other A310 will remain on the current Frankfurt service.