Indian low-cost carrier, SpiceJet, is now operating long-haul cargo operations with an A340-300 passenger aircraft in so-called ‘preighter’ configuration.
The A340 preighter is a passenger aircraft converted into a freighter by removing its seats in order to carry cargo in the main cabin. It was inducted into the fleet on 17 August from an unknown source, with speculation it is from Portuguese wet lease and charter airline Hi Fly.
The Lisbon-based carrier has removed seats of some of its A330, A340 and A380 aircraft in order to temporarily turn them into freighters.
The maiden flight for SpiceJet with the A340 was from Amsterdam (AMS) to Mumbai (BOM) on Saturday carrying 13 tonnes of cargo, followed by Mumbai to Sudan’s Khartoum (KRT) on Sunday with a payload of 40 tonnes.
SpiceJet notes it is the first and only Indian carrier to operate non-stop cargo services from Europe on a dedicated freighter. This was SpiceJet’s first non-stop flight to Africa. The airline had earlier flown to Sudan via Ras Al-Khaimah (RKT).
Ajay Singh, chairman & managing director, SpiceJet says: “Today is a proud moment and a huge milestone in SpiceJet’s remarkable journey as India’s leading cargo operator as we successfully operated our first wide-body long-haul flight from Europe.
“The induction of our first Airbus A340 cargo aircraft has significantly enhanced our operational capability and will allow us to operate non-stop cargo services across the globe to destinations in Europe, Africa and CIS countries.”
Amidst the greatest crisis ever to hit global aviation, SpiceJet has emerged as India’s top cargo carrier. The airline has operated over 5,764 cargo flights and transported over 31,800 tonnes of cargo – more than double of all domestic airlines combined together – carrying medicines and medical equipment and fruits and vegetables to all corners of India and the world since 25 March 2020.
SpiceJet operated the country’s first cargo-on-seat flight on 7 April carrying vital supplies in passenger cabin & belly space. Since then, the airline has been regularly deploying its B737 and Q400 passenger aircraft to carry cargo in the passenger cabin. The carrier also operates eight B737 & Bombardier Q-400 full freighters under its SpiceXpress brand.
SpiceJet’s international cargo network now spans over 42 international destinations. The airline has also been actively using Ras Al-Khaimah airport as a hub for its non-domestic cargo operations.