India-based SpiceJet could soon double its own narrowbody freighter fleet to cater to e-commerce demand in the Indian subcontinent and within Asia generally.
“We are very much in the market for another five [737Fs],” said Sanjiv Gupta, CEO of SpiceXpress, the carrier’s cargo arm, during the opening session at Cargo Facts Asia this week.
While much of SpiceXpress’ freighter fleet is currently utilized for international routes, domestic e-commerce growth also bodes well for air cargo growth. “E-commerce movement within India continues to be extremely strong for the two big giants, Walmart and Amazon, and we continue to partner with them extremely strongly in their growth plans over the next couple of years,” said Gupta.
All three of SpiceJet’s 737-700BDSFs previously flew with Xiamen Airlines, with two (29042 and 29084) being 1998 frames and the other (30512) manufactured in 2000; the two 737-800BCFs (30474 and 30475) are sister 2000-vintage ex-Hainan Airlines frames.
The carrier had previously planned to take its fleet to six freighters by March 2020.
Apart from its own full freighters, SpiceJet is currently also operating reconfigured 737s and Q400s from its passenger fleet, as well as wet-leased capacity in the form of reconfigured passenger freighters: an A330-200 and four A340-300s from Hi Fly, and a 767-300ER from EuroAtlantic Airways.
Having now operated cargo services to as far as Miami (ORD) and Chicago (ORD), SpiceXpress is firming up its medium-range freighter plans, although Gupta said that this will be a “medium-term exercise” given the lack of conversion capacity.
Blue Dart Aviation — which has six 757-200Fs — is the only other jet freighter operator in India, but Gupta said the country “can easily absorb another ten [narrowbody freighters].”