Shahvez Jafary, Chief Commercial Officer, Air Charter Service India, recalls the time when passenger aircrafts were converted into cargo aircrafts to deal with the demand upsurge during the pandemic, and expresses the need for improvements in the infrastructure at airports in remote areas for delivering project cargo directly.
Which sectors have been the significant growth drivers in the air cargo logistics industry and how are the cargo aircrafts coping with the increasing demand?
Customers’ needs and demand over the last few years have increased, leading to the growth of the e-commerce business. As regards air cargo, industries, namely, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and electronics are demanding better and faster logistic solutions.
During the pandemic, the passenger aircraft converted to cargo planes played a significant role in covering the capacity crunch following air travel restrictions. Aircraft manufacturers were struggling to meet their orders due to the delay in production during the pandemic and the increased number of orders for both passenger and cargo.
Many new airlines have come up over the last few years; the existing airlines have been increasing their fleets and the cargo airlines have been increasing their capacity. We have seen many carriers adding freighters to their fleets and new cargo airlines coming up in the country. These factors are contributing to the increase in overall capacity and growth in the air cargo logistics business.
India is on a mission of ‘Made in India’ products and solutions across industries. Most project logistics companies have been reporting significant growth in the last few years, and there is enormous potential for both Indian and foreign investors.
What challenges do you face in delivering project cargo in remote areas?
As customer demand has increased over the years, so has the number of requests for charters across the country. We face issues operating the flights to remote areas due to the lack of infrastructure and airport facilities. Sometimes there are policies that do not allow aircraft and carriers to operate in certain regions. There are several new airports planned over the next few years; however, the government should consider the cargo facilities and cargo aircraft handling capabilities of the airports to facilitate smooth delivery of project cargo by air.
What measures should the government take to aid transportation of project cargo across the country?
India has a neutral policy regarding allowing Indian and foreign carriers to operate the flights and, if anything, it protects the interests of Indian carriers very well. I guess the policy in the next few years will keep updating, depending upon the new carriers and fleets coming into the country.
As regards project cargo charters, where we usually use the widebody freighters, the government tends to be more flexible regarding foreign carriers operating the flights to most of the airports in India, as it does not clash with the interests of the narrow-body operators in the country.
Government support for building and providing the infrastructure at airports in remote areas will enable cargo carriers to operate in these airports and deliver directly to these regions, which will save time and cost, instead of carrying the cargo to major cities.