It has been a long time coming, but India-based all-cargo carrier Quikjet finally launched service, offering overnight flights connecting Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad with its single 737-400 freighter.
Quikjet was formed as a startup in 2007, backed by various Indian investors, including the Tata Group. In 2012, Switzerland-based Farnair acquired a 36% stake in the carrier, with the goal of moving some of its ATR-72Fs onto the Indian carrier’s certificate and operating them in domestic service. In fact, Farnair did transfer one ATR-72F to Quikjet, but it only flew for three months in charter service before it was grounded. At that time, Farnair said that while Quikjet intended to eventually re-launch service, it would do so at a later date, and with 737 freighters rather than the turboprop ATRs.
Fast forward to last year, and while Farnair had upped its stake and was now majority owner, Quikjet was still on the ground. Then Ireland-based ASL Aviation Group acquired Farnair, and announced its intention to follow through on the launch of Quikjet, pending finalization of a contract with a major express company.
And now, nine years after its conception, Quikjet has received its AOC and taken to the skies.
ASL, which has increased its stake in Quikjet to 78%, transferred one of its 737-400Fs (28490) to Quikjet, and the Indian carrier operated it first flight yesterday. Initially, Quikjet will offer overnight flights connecting Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, but ASL says service to Mumbai and Kolkatta will be added in a second phase, although this would almost certainly require at least one more aircraft.
But what about ASL’s earlier comment about waiting for an agreement with an express company? At the time, Cargo Facts, and probably most other observers, expected that ASL was negotiating with FedEx or UPS to provide contract lift in India, but today’s announcement included something of a surprise, in the statement that Quikjet “is launching with services for Mumbai based Sovika Aviation and will also be available for domestic and international cargo charters.”
Sovika Aviation is “an airport to airport logistics specialist,” and part of the Mumbai-based Sovika Group, which has interests in “chemicals, aviation, & lifestyle,” and which is active in “aircraft leasing, ground handling, air charters, flight operations and airline representation services.”
ASL said it expects Quikjet to grow the partnership with Sovika and to expand its services for all customers “based on its capability to provide a range of aircraft with varying payload options to suit specific customer requirements.” So, no specific timetable for the placement of a second freighter, but it appears that ASL, which has a wide variety of freighter aircraft, from ATR 42Fs all the way up to medium-widebody A300-600Fs, is prepared to add whatever aircraft is needed to the new operation.
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