The nation’s largest domestic airline, IndiGo is in the process of leasing four A321ceo freighter aircraft, each having the capacity to handle 27 tonnes of cargo, the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

“A Letter of Intent has been signed with a lessor for two aircraft already, and IndiGo expects to reach an agreement for the next two shortly,” it said.

Also read: Amidst uptick in cargo operations, Indigo considers launching dedicated freighters

The airline expects to take the delivery of its first freighter, which will be used for both domestic and regional missions, in the first half of 2022. While the remaining three aircraft in the initial commitment are expected to arrive within a year or so from the arrival of the first freighter, and more aircraft may be sourced depending on market development, it stated.

The aforementioned lessor will covert A321ceo from passenger jets to a full freighter configuration and then hand them over to IndiGo.

“A321P2F (Passenger-to-Freighter conversion) is the most efficient narrow-bodied freighter aircraft available, offering 24 container positions and supporting a payload of up to 27 tonnes. These are being converted through a programme involving ST Engineering and Airbus with their joint venture, Elbe FlugzeugWerke (EFW)” the statement noted.

Our investment in the Airbus Freighter Programme will help strengthen our product and services in the segment and not only help accelerate our own business recovery but also be a strong engine of economic growth for the country.”
~ Ronojoy Dutta, chief executive officer and whole-time director, IndiGo

Further he added, “CarGo has been a success story over the last year, scaling new heights and creating new records, but our belief in the cargo business goes beyond the special circumstances right now. IndiGo was already the largest carrier of cargo in India before covid-19 and we expect the market to continue to grow after the pandemic.”

Although restrictions have been imposed by the Centre and states on passenger flights since March last year in view of the coronavirus pandemic, freighter flights have been operating as usual. Therefore, airlines are focusing on cargo to shore up revenues.