COVID-19 supplies keep air cargo operators afloat

The pandemic may have severely impacted passenger airlines since early last year, but air cargo and freighter operators have reported brisk business owing to increased transportation of COVID-19 related essentials by air.

Blue Dart Express, which includes its subsidiary Blue Dart Aviation, reported a turnaround in FY21, posting a net profit of ₹96.3 crore in the full year against a net loss of ₹38.3 crore in FY20.

This was despite absorbing a special COVID-19 ex-gratia of ₹34.2 crore paid to employees in September 2020 and accelerated depreciation of IT servers amounting to ₹24 crore.

The margin improvement was backed up by better realisation and cost efficiencies during the year. Increased contact less delivery also helped.

“All our facilities operated every single day through the pandemic, delivering PPE kits, ventilators, vaccines, oxygen concentrators, pharmaceutical and medical equipment,” managing director Balfour Manuel said. “We are cautiously optimistic about the new financial year on the background of the current wave II and the impending wave III of the pandemic,” he added. SpiceJet, which operates air cargo subsidiary SpiceExpress, is also reporting encouraging performance as its fleet is increasingly being deployed for transportation of essential items and medical goods to deal with the pandemic.

During the third quarter, revenue from cargo operations surged almost fivefold year-on-year and the fleet had increased to 19 freighters, including five wide-bodied aircraft.

Considering the high potential of this segment, IndiGo recently announced plans to induct four Airbus A-321 freighters by 2022.

“The strength of cargo volumes has cushioned some of the impact for the [airline] industry. The second wave will limit domestic and international passenger belly capacity, which will be positive for cargo yields and freighter operators,” CAPA said in a report.

“IndiGo will possibly form an alliance with a global integrator [for freight] and SpiceJet may hive-off its cargo division and use this as a vehicle to raise capital,” CAPA said.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 2:58:15 PM |

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