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Article submitted by: SpiceJet – New TIACA Trustee Member

From being at the edge of a precipice to becoming India’s favourite passenger airline and largest air cargo operator, it is not without reason that SpiceJet is likened to the proverbial phoenix and lauded as one of the greatest turnaround stories in aviation industry. It seems the airline company has now made overcoming adversities into a habit with its inherent resilience shining through.

It is well documented how the aviation industry suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, what is not widely known is how SpiceJet braved the turbulence when some biggest global airlines collapsed during the pandemic and winged its way to become an astounding growth story by its sheer grit, determination, strong leadership, vision and innovation. Today, the airline is the country’s largest air cargo operator and has charted some serious growth plans, including offering door-to-door delivery for B2B clients.

SpiceJet is currently the only domestic Indian airline with a dedicated fleet of freighters. Having these assets proved to be a strategic move by the senior management, and these certainly helped the airline breathe through the pandemic choke. SpiceJet had launched SpiceXpress, the airline’s dedicated cargo arm, in 2018, when uncertainties loomed large on the viability of cargo operations in India.

On his turnaround journey six years back, Mr Singh had commented, “You need guts, belief and the ability to look at the larger picture. Understanding the gut of the business is essential because you cannot tackle the problems with a superfluous view.” A man with a vision, Mr. Singh credited to have revived the airline in 2014, seems to have got his gut right this time too.

The airline has operated more than 7000 cargo flights since the lockdown began and has carried over 50,000 tonnes of cargo. This is more than double of all domestic airlines combined together. The move seems to have played a critical role in insulating the airline against the shocks of the pandemic. When the primary source of revenue from passenger operations completely dried up for most airlines worldwide, SpiceJet’s cargo business helped it maintain adequate cash flows to cover cost of operations. Besides, when some of the biggest airlines around the world announced job cuts, SpiceJet witnessed zero retrenchment.

Evidently, SpiceJet has been pursuing its cargo business with all seriousness. Since 2018, SpiceJet has developed the capability of providing door-to-door deliveries to over 15,000 pin codes across India; the lockdown only providing further impetus to its growth. The airline company is providing doorstep deliveries to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, diagnostic centres across the country. It, thus, helped maintain continuous supply chains for ventilators, face masks, sanitisers, and essential surgical supplies through the pandemic.

While medical supplies formed a large part of the cargo movement, industries including perishables, electronic goods, technology products and cold chain pharmaceuticals have also been actively using the services of the airline. Additionally, the airline also contributed in a big way to support the government’s ‘Krishi Udaan’ and ‘Marine Krishi Udaan’ initiatives lending a helping hand to Indian farmers and fishermen, by carrying a record 9500 tonnes of shrimp and farm produce during the lockdown.

Under the stewardship of Mr. Singh, SpiceJet has grown the cargo operations through exclusive partnerships with multinational organisations, freight forwarders, cargo agents as well as business associates. “A country, as big as ours, definitely needed a big cargo operator. There was so much to be done. It has taken SpiceJet a lot of time and energy and, of course, a lot of investment in setting up the infrastructure on the ground and making SpiceXpress what it is today. It’s only recently that the national focus has shifted to cargo flights but we have been doing well for some time now”, Mr. Singh explained.

In March, SpiceJet signed an agreement to lease with GMR Hyderabad Aviation SEZ Limited (GHASL). Under the partnership, GHASL will be constructing a facility for SpiceJet to carry out the warehousing, distribution and trading activity within the Free Trade Warehousing Zone of multi-product SEZ-GMR Aerospace & Industrial Park.

In the same month, the Company signed a tripartite MoU with GMR Hyderabad International Airport (GHIAL) and Ras-Al-Khaimah International Airport, UAE. This MoU aims to promote the export of agro products, including fruits, vegetables, spices, flowers, livestock, dairy, and seafood products from India to United Arab Emirates and neighbouring countries via Hyderabad.

SpiceJet, in a fine example of innovation, has pressed its passenger aircraft into service for cargo-on-seat operations. In fact, SpiceJet was India’s first airline to operate a cargo-on-seat flight – carrying cargo in both passenger cabin and belly space on April 7. Addressing the increased demand amid the lockdown, the company converted six Q400 aircraft into freighters and further expanded its cargo fleet.

The company’s international cargo network now spans 44 international destinations. The airline has been actively using Ras Al-Khaimah airport as a hub for its cargo operations. The company recently started operations of wide-body cargo aircraft – a huge game-changer – that is being primarily used for transporting cargo goods and essential supplies on long-haul routes including to destinations in Europe, CIS and Africa. SpiceJet now operates two wide-body cargo planes for its long-haul cargo operations.

On operating the Airbus A340, Mr. Singh said, “We are confident that our long-haul cargo flights would further help boost Indian businesses, farmers, and pharma companies – providing them with seamless access to newer markets.”

The quote once again proves that here is one company that deeply cares about India.

Gerry’s dnata Expands Offering; Launches Line Maintenance Services in Pakistan

Karachi, Pakistan, 13 January 2022 – Gerry’s dnata, Pakistan’s leading ground services provider, has expanded its offering. The company obtained Maintenance Organization Approval from the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority to provide aircraft line maintenance services to airline customers, and now offers a one-stop-shop of ground handling, cargo and technical services at the airports of Karachi (KHI), Lahore (LHE) and Islamabad (ISB). 

Gerry’s dnata’s team of professionals can provide full line maintenance support and are trained on customers’ company procedures, providing a seamless service to both passenger and cargo airlines.

The launch customer is flydubai, which Gerry’s dnata already serves at four airports in Pakistan providing a range of ramp and passenger handling services to the airline and its customers.

Syed Haris Raza, Vice President of Gerry’s dnata, said: “As Pakistan’s leading ground handler, we constantly enhance our offering to best meet the needs of our customers. We are confident that our airline partners will welcome the expansion of our portfolio and take advantage of getting quality and safe ground handling and technical services from a single provider. Our team of highly trained, seasoned professionals will deliver world-class quality and safety for our valued customers.”

Mick Hills, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Maintenance at flydubai, said: “We are looking forward to expanding our relationship with Gerry’s dnata to include line maintenance services in Pakistan. Having a single, local provider to oversee our line maintenance, as well as ground handling, will add more efficiencies to our fleet management and ensure a quicker turnaround of our aircraft.”

Gerry’s dnata have the capability to handle the following aircraft types for scheduled, unscheduled and AOG services:

  • Airbus A319/A320/A321 NEO (CFM LEAP-1A)
  • Airbus A318/319/320/321 (CFM56)
  • Airbus A319/320/321 (IAE V2500)
  • Airbus A330 (RR RB 211 Trent 700)
  • Airbus A330 (GE CF6)
  • Boeing B737-600/700/800/900 (CFM56)

Over the past year, Gerry’s dnata has continued to enhance its operations and services to deliver the highest level of quality and safety and help airline customers safely transport passengers and precious cargo to and from Pakistan. It made significant investments in infrastructure, technology and equipment, including the opening of a new, state-of- the-art cargo facility in Lahore which doubled the company’s cargo handling capacity at the airport.

Gerry’s dnata’s quality of service helped it win or retain over 20 contracts with key accounts across its network. The company also achieved prestigious industry certifications, including GDP and IATA’s ISAGO accreditation, which validate its capabilities and place the business in a market leading position.

Gerry’s dnata serves more than 20 airline customers at seven Pakistani airports. The company’s team consists of over 2,500 dedicated aviation professionals who assist more than seven million passengers and handle 150,000 tons of cargo annually.

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Gabor Vasarhelyi
Public Relations, dnata