India’s largest carrier, IndiGo announced it would add four A321P2F (passenger to freighter) aircraft to the fleet for cargo operations. The airline has signed a Letter of Intent with a lessor for two aircraft, with negotiations for two more expected to conclude shortly. Each aircraft will be converted from passenger jets to a full freighter configuration. The first A321P2F is planned to be delivered to the carrier in the first half of 2022, which will be used for both domestic and regional missions. The first A321P2F entered service with Qantas in October last year.
Mr. Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, and Wholetime Director, IndiGo said, “Cargo has been a success story over the last year, scaling new heights and creating new records, but our belief in the cargo business goes beyond the special circumstances right now. IndiGo was already the largest carrier of cargo in domestic India before Covid-19, and we expect the market to continue to grow after the pandemic. Our investment in the Airbus Freighter Programme will help strengthen our product and services in the segment, and not only help accelerate our own business recovery but also be a strong engine of economic growth for the country.”
The initiative will make the best use of the natural synergies that IndiGo offers, using the same pool of pilots and engineers that fly and service its current fleet.
“The A321P2F (passenger-to-freighter conversion) is the most efficient narrow-bodied freighter available, offering 24 container positions and supporting a payload of up to 27 tonnes. These are being converted through a program involving ST Engineering and Airbus with their joint venture, Elbe FlugzeugWerke (EFW),” it said.
The airline may consider further aircraft depending on market development. India’s airlines flew 7,822 million passengers on domestic flights in March 2021, figures from the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation showed. IndiGo has the largest market share in March, at 53.5% or 4.185 million domestic passengers.
With its fleet of 280+ aircraft, the airline is operating around 1,200 daily flights and connecting 66 domestic destinations and 24 international destinations. IndiGo announced two new destinations in March 2021, which shows that the airline is ambitious towards its growth plan amid the pandemic.