Air cargo in flux after covid, war: Blue Dart

However, company optimistic of resurgence in volumes, says MD Manuel

Anu Sharma
Updated5 Aug 2023, 12:48 AM IST
Balfour Manuel, MD, Blue Dart Express Ltd
Balfour Manuel, MD, Blue Dart Express Ltd

The air freight sector is navigating a transition at a time the world is recovering from the covid pandemic and the intensified Russia-Ukraine conflict, Blue Dart Express Ltd managing director Balfour Manuel said.

Unpredictable demand from the US and Europe, compounded by domestic disturbances, has posed difficulties for India’s air cargo sector, Manuel said in an interview, adding the company’s outlook remains buoyant for a bounceback in freight volumes.

“Air cargo trade from India is facing challenges due to demand fluctuations from the US and Europe, along with certain domestic disruptions. However, we remain optimistic; there will be a resurgence in cargo volumes. As the world overcomes the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic and the escalated war, various sectors including air cargo are going through a transitional phase,” Manuel said.

As per the latest data from the Airports Authority of India, domestic air cargo in the June quarter fell 4.7% from a year earlier to 315,530 tonnes, while international air cargo rose 0.1% during the same period to 479,960 tonnes.

Blue Dart is an Indian logistics company providing courier delivery services. Blue Dart Aviation has a fleet of six Boeing 757 aircraft offering 74 route connections. The company recently acquired two Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which will increase the company’s capacity to 650 tonnes per day from 500 tonnes.

The Mumbai-based company remains optimistic about the outlook for domestic as well as international cargo.

“Domestically, with the rise of e-commerce and changing consumer preferences, the demand for faster and more reliable deliveries is expected to continue driving the growth of domestic cargo shipments. For overseas cargo, as Indian businesses expand their footprint abroad, the need for efficient overseas cargo services is on the rise,” Manuel said.

In India, the company is facilitating business for various sectors, including e-commerce, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), consumer electronics and automotives.

With Air India expected to increase its wide-body aircraft count, the company is working on raising the quality of its product to face competition.

“The airline industry is our natural alliance and, therefore, complementary to our volumes. Competition is a natural aspect of any industry, and it motivates us to continuously improve and enhance services,” he said.

For the current year, the company’s investments are tilted towards capacity creation through the induction of the two new aircraft, automation and digitalization and retail expansion.

“We will continue to invest in capex plans based on the return on investment,” he said.

The company is also looking at acquisitions in India as part of its strategy going forward.

“We are open to keeping options open for all opportunities aligned with our strategic roadmap,” Manuel said. DHL Express (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (“DHL”) holds 75% of the equity capital of Blue Dart.

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First Published:5 Aug 2023, 12:48 AM IST
HomeNewsIndiaAir cargo in flux after covid, war: Blue Dart

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