Mumbai: India’s first international air-freight operator Flyington Freighters Ltd will start operations in July this year using two leased Airbus A330-200 F aircraft till such time the company buys six planes of the same type. The company hopes to cater to a booming market for outbound cargo services in the country. The first of the new planes will join the Hyderabad-based company’s fleet in October-November 2009.
Flyington Freighters Ltd, promoted by T. Venkattram Reddy, chairman, Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd that publishes the English daily Deccan Chronicle, is investing $1 billion (Rs4,100 crore) for buying the six aircraft from French plane maker Airbus Industrie.
“The price for each of these aircraft is $175 million,” John Leahy, chief operating officer (customers) at Airbus, told reporters after signing the deal with Flyington.
Reddy said that Flyington was buying the planes with “our own money”.
He, however, said the company would look at various options for raising funds, including a stake sale in the local market.
Reddy made it clear that Flyington would only operate internationally to destinations such as China, Europe, Africa and West Asia. “There is so much of exports from India but global freighter aircraft operators are not able to satisfy the demand. We want to capture a 30-40% share of the market,” he said.
About 1.2 million tonnes of international cargo originating from and destined for India were carried by freighter planes in the 12 months to March 2007. “But, there is limited availability of dedicated freighter planes to carry the cargo,” said Captain Deepak Parasuraman, managing director, Flyington Freighters. And, “surprisingly, there is no dedicated international freighter operating out of India,” said Kiran Rao, executive vice-president (marketing and contracts) at Airbus.
Reddy said Flyington had “preliminary talks” with US-based plane maker Boeing to buy freighter planes. “But, we decided to buy freighters from Airbus because they gave a better deal,” he said.
India’s freighter fleet is expected to grow 20-fold from eight planes in 2005 to 61 by 2015 and 165 by 2025, said Rao. “This is a market that is set to boom,” he added.
Rao said that local air carriers Jet Airways and Air Deccan were looking at freighter business. “We are in discussions with both the airlines to sell the latest generation freighter planes,” he said.