Air India is aiming to play a key role in boosting the freight and cargo ecosystem in India and globally.
The belly capacity of its fleet will grow significantly over the next few years, with the addition this year of new widebody aircraft and with most aircraft on firm order set to arrive from 2025, complementing India’s manufacturing and export growth.
This is said to also have a cascading effect in generating greater employment prospects and boosting various business sectors, while supporting the economy.
India’s leading airline states that the firm orders comprising widebody aircraft of 34 A350-1000, six A350-900, 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and 10 Boeing 777X widebody aircraft will increase its annual cargo capacity by 300 per cent to two million tonnes over the next five years with non-stop connection to key export markets globally.
Campbell Wilson, chief executive and managing director of Air India said: “At Air India, we see a huge potential in the air cargo industry, which the Indian government plans to grow to 10 million tonnes by 2030.
“Our cargo division is implementing a series of strategic measures aimed at fostering growth and strengthening our market presence. The large passenger belly capacity addition will be
augmented with the launch of value-added products and services across the network.”
The airline states that the following initiatives will play a significant role in its goals:
Adoption of technology
Air India says the latest IT solutions are being integrated to strengthen the use of technology, including blockchain, AI, and drones to optimise productivity. Short-term changes haven been devised in the existing IT Cargo System to enhance efficiency in areas such as electronic data interchange, seamless connectivity with trade partners, and real-time updates on flight and shipment status. These advancements will help Air India to deliver a wide range of services with global capabilities viz. pharma logistics, door-to-door logistics with global partners, e-commerce, carriage of valuables, pets, cold chain for perishables, mail, trans-shipment with connection windows, etc.
Investments in infrastructure
Air India, in collaboration with its joint venture partner SATS, states it is committed to investing substantial capital expenditure for developing airport and logistics infrastructure. The airline is also exploring possibilities of augmenting freighter capacity in collaboration with partners.
Integrated cargo market
Air India says it is set to launch three 24×7 control centres to integrate and improve customer interface, customer service and operations efficiency. As domestic e-commerce and other business expand in the Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets in India, Air India’s expanding domestic network will add momentum. The integrated network, along with enhanced capacity will provide efficient,
streamlined, and cost-effective connectivity in terms of point-to-point transportation to short- and long-haul destinations throughout the network.
Air India is also proactively expanding its reach through strategic partnerships and collaborations. By strengthening interline partnerships and trucking network connections, the airline aims to foster increased exports. Currently, Air India transports cargo to over 40 international as well as 38 domestic destinations. The airline has also tied up with offline trucking points across the globe to expand its base besides coordinating with and service providers at Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru airports to strengthen trans-shipment efficiency and volume at the main global hubs in India for all forms of trans-shipment.
Capacity to carry diverse products
Air India’s diverse carriage of products and services will be further enhanced with increase in capacity and adoption of technology and help it to strengthen its position at a global stage. Movement and delivery of pharma logistics, door-to-door logistics through global partners, e-commerce, express services, general cargo, valuables, sensitive goods, pet transportation, and personal effects, as well as strengthened cold chain solutions for perishables, among others.