Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet, will begin its first maindeck services under the new branding of SpiceXpress next week, after inducting its first B737 freighter earlier this week.
SpiceXpress plans an initial set of both domestic and international routes, starting with Delhi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Hong Kong, Kabul and Amritsar, the company said in a statement.
“SpiceXpress which starts operation from September 18, 2018, will function as a separate business unit under SpiceJet Limited,” the carrier said.
The carrier’s first B737-700F is one of four freighters the carrier is planning to add to its fleet by March 2019. The freighters are all on operating leases with ground operations either self-handled by the existing Spicejet ground infrastructure, or outsourced until the freight division reaches a certain scale of operations, said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet.
“With our proven operational capability, this is an extension of our ‘belly cargo’ service to a dedicated freighter with Boeing 737 aircraft. We are very excited about the tremendous potential the logistics industry offers.
“There is a huge untapped market for air cargo services in India and a player like SpiceJet – with its low cost structure – is best suited to address this need,” said Singh during the induction ceremony earlier this week.
The inclusion of Kabul in its list of destinations stems from a recent agreement the carrier struck with the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) to run cargo operations between Delhi and Kabul from 15 October.
SpiceJet plans to uplift 1,500 tonnes of cargo a month under the partnership. “In collaboration with ACCI and with the support of government of Afghanistan, SpiceJet will transport fresh fruits and dry fruits, carpets and other commodities from Kabul to different states of India at competitive prices, which will be subsidised by the Afghan Government,” the carrier said.
The current cargo capacity of SpiceJet’s existing passenger fleet – consisting of three B737-700s, 28 B737-800s, four B737-900ERs and 23 Bombarier Dash 8 Q400s – is about 500 tonnes per day on its network covering 47 domestic and seven international destinations. The carrier also has orders placed for a substantial 155 B737 MAX 8s and 25 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 NGs.
With the launch of the dedicated maindeck service this capacity would go up to 900 tonnes a day in a phased manner with the addition of four freighters by March 2019. Once all four freighters are onboard, the carrier will offer cargo service to 60 domestic destinations by the end of this year and by 2022 aims to provide cargo service to 150 destinations across India, Asia and Europe.