SpiceJet converts 3 Q400's for its cargo operations, Indian aviation restart hits turbulence

SpiceJet has decided to take a new approach to its strategy for its survival and return back to profitability through the reconfiguration of a couple of aircraft to boost its cargo operations.


Rendering of a SpiceJet Q400. Photo by Bomardier.

The airline has converted 3 Bombardier Q400 passenger aircraft to freighter planes. SpiceJet has so far transported over 12,000 tons of cargo on its flights since the nationwide lockdown was imposed. It has been expanding its cargo operations rapidly in the international sector especially with the nationwide lockdown having helped the airline profit from flying cargo routes. The addition of these three Q400s brings the total number of freighter aircraft to 8. This includes 5 Boeing 737 freighter aircraft.



Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director at SpiceJet, said: “Our cargo operations are doing extremely well and to address the increased demand we have converted three Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters. These are our old 78-seater Q400s and have a cargo capacity of 8.5 tons each. These smaller cargo planes are perfectly suited for operations to Tier II & III cities and to remote and hilly areas in the North East, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh. There is an opportunity in every crisis and at SpiceJet, we have been constantly innovating and adapting to changing situations. Today, our cargo network spans over 25 international destinations most of which we added during the lockdown period. We see a tremendous potential in the cargo business and will continue to expand in the times to come.”



IndiGo has also resumed its domestic flights and still has a large share in the limited operations allowed by the government of India. It is operating over 200 flights a day to 51 cities around the country. At the same time, IndiGo states that they are painfully aware that continuing last minute changes in regulations, mandated by State Governments at short notice, are causing a huge number of disruptions for customers and accessibility to their call centre has become very difficult.



The state government is changing its policies on domestic flight operations at very short notice, as a day before operations were to scheduled to restart. the Mumbai and Tamil Nadu state government decided that only 25 arrivals and departures would be allowed, which threw the entire operation plan into haywire.



IndiGo and many other airlines had to change their schedule at last minute and many flights were cancelled. This limitation at Mumbai International Airport caused a knock-on effect across the country. Many passengers were seen arriving at the airport without any information as to whether their flight was on time or cancelled. The restrictions due to COVID-19 has limited the employees at call centers, meaning passengers had no clue as to what to do if their flight was cancelled.



GoAir has decided to start its operations from 1st June 2020, owing to lack of clarity from state government. All the other Indian airlines have restarted operations but GoAir has decided not to as it says it wants to evaluate the scenario before resuming flights. The airline further said that without clarity on conditions, it does not wish to create inconvenience for its passengers by putting flights on sale immediately post May 25. The airline also said that they have some issues such as (providing) simulator training to pilots and renewal of certain licences which have lapsed. All these issues will take time to resolve.

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