To serve the surging cargo demand, airline major IndiGo plans to convert four A321ceo aircraft from passenger jets to a full freighter configuration.
The air carrier has signed a Letter of Intent with an aircraft lessor for two aircraft already, and expects to reach agreement for the rest shortly.
IndiGo said the initiative will make best use of the natural synergies that IndiGo offers, using the same pool of pilots and engineers that fly and service its current fleet.
“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,” said Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer and Wholetime Director, IndiGo.
“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.”
As per the airline, 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 programme involving ST Engineering and Airbus with their joint venture, Elbe FlugzeugWerke (EFW).
In addition, IndiGo said it expects to take the delivery of the first freighter during the first half of 2022, which will be used for both domestic and regional missions.
The remaining three aircraft in the initial commitment are expected to arrive within a year or so from arrival of the first freighter, and further aircraft may be sourced depending on market development, the airline said.