Mumbai: As domestic and international cargo out of India continues to grow rapidly, two logistics firms are planning to lease cargo jets made by Boeing Co. for their captive use.
India’s second-largest courier company, First Flight Couriers Ltd, will end leases on its two small cargo planes that ferried packages and goods across the country.
The Mumbai-based firm is shuttering the operation over high cost of using smaller planes on long routes.
A cargo plane sits on the tarmac at Inchon International Airport in South Korea
“We will restart the operations once we acquire bigger type of aeroplanes. We are planning to take Boeing B737 cargo planes on lease in the next three-four months,” said R.K. Saboo, deputy managing director, First Flight. The company operates from Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.
New Delhi-based cargo transportation company, Safexpress Pvt. Ltd, is planning to enter the cargo airline business to carry consignments, too.
“We are tying up with a South Indian company which will own and operate aircraft for us,” said Pawan Jain, chairman and managing director of Safexpress. He said the relationship with its proposed partner, who he declined to name, would not involve any equity.
“This company will be carrying only our cargo,” he said. “They are finalizing the talks for taking three Boeing B737 cargo planes as well securing a licence from the ministry of civil aviation.”
Nagpur will be the hub of the Safexpress cargo airline operation, which is slated to start early next year, and will dovetail with a Rs700 crore warehouses expansion plan it is rolling out.
Logistics giant DHL-controlled Blue Dart Aviation Ltd is the only company that is currently running cargo aeroplane operations in India, while Hyderabad-based Flyington Freighters Ltd has announced plans to start domestic and international operations shortly.
Passenger airlines, such as Deccan Aviation Pvt. Ltd’s Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, GoAir Ltd and Jet Airways (India) Ltd, are planning to enter into this segment.
State-owned National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, or Nacil, which runs Air India and Indian Airlines, also plans to lease planes from Boeing. Indian Airlines plans to convert five of its Boeing aeroplanes into freighters.
The interest in the air cargo business comes at a time when domestic cargo has grown more than a third in fiscal 2007, while international cargo movement expanded at an estimated 15%, according to trade body Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.