Home >News >India >Airlines eye steady revenue from jab delivery after Mar

NEW DELHI : Airlines expect vaccine cargo load to pick up by March-April, if more covid-19 vaccines get government approval and enough doses are available for the mass inoculation drive, industry officials told Mint.

So far, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Vistara, GoAir and Air India have not seen significant contribution to cargo revenues from transport of vaccines for frontline workers, and are operating only limited flights. However, this is likely to change.

“Things are likely to change once vaccines are rolled out for mass inoculation and then the cargo revenue from vaccine transportation could actually have an impact on the financials," said an official of a no-frills airline, seeking anonymity. “There will also be an opportunity to transport the vaccines internationally."

SpiceJet, which anticipates a boom in cargo demand, has added two wide-body aircraft, a Boeing 767 and an Airbus A330, to its fleet, which now has 19 planes, including five wide-body aircraft. The Gurugram-based airline has so far carried 597 boxes of vaccines, comprising about 12,000 vials, to Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, and Leh.

Vistara, the Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture, transported Covaxin, the coronavirus vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech, from Hyderabad to New Delhi, and Serum Institute of India‘s Covishield from Mumbai to Varanasi.

IndiGo and GoAir have also operated several flights carrying vaccines using its fleet of ATR planes and Airbus A320. A GoAir spokesperson said it has transported 2,311,000 vaccine doses so far.

News reports said IndiGo, India’s largest airline, is contemplating launching a dedicated freighter service for vaccine transportation. “IndiGo transported a total 5,785 kg of shipments from SII and Bharat Biotech, vaccine vials equating to 2.16 million doses, between 12 January and 19 January. The shipments were moved from Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune to 16 locations across the country, including Vijayawada, Guwahati, Patna, Odisha, Raipur, Bhopal, Thiruvananthapuram, Indore, Imphal, Agartala, Chandigarh, and Udaipur via 21 IndiGo flights," the airline said in a statement.

When contacted, a Vistara spokesperson refused to divulge details. National carrier Air India, which has transported several thousands of vaccine doses, is adding to its capacity for vaccine delivery, a senior airline official said. “Air India is eyeing an opportunity to transport vaccines to other countries on its wide body fleet," the official added.

Leroy Leo in Delhi contributed to the story

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