IndiGo plans to purchase four Airbus A321s and convert them to freighters. The jets would be the first cargo aircraft in the airline’s fleet and come as demand for freight remains high. The first A321P2F (Passenger To Freighter) will be delivered in the first half of 2022.
In a statement yesterday, IndiGo announced that it is in the process of purchasing four Airbus A321s for cargo conversions. The airline has already signed a Letter of Intent with lessors for two A321ceos (or -200s) and will sign the deal for two more soon. IndiGo itself only operates the newer A321neo, which means it cannot use its own fleet for the conversion.
Once the aircraft are sourced, they will undergo the conversion process from passenger A321-200s to the new A321P2F. The conversion program is run by Airbus, ST Engineering, and Elbe Flugzeugwerke.
If you haven’t heard much about the A321P2F, that’s not much of a surprise. The aircraft only received certification last year and the first delivery was completed in October. Qantas (on behalf of Australia Post) was the launch operator of the A321 converted freighter.
For Airbus, the A321P2F is an opportunity to break Boeing’s dominance in the single-aisle freighter market. While Boeing 737Fs have been around for decades, the European manufacturer has been behind the curve. However, with over 2,000 A321s in service today, the market for conversions will be huge.
Airbus also highlights that the A321P2F is the most efficient single-aisle cargo jet on the market. The aircraft can carry 28 metric tonnes of cargo with 24 container positions in total. In terms of range, the aircraft can fly 2,051 nautical miles (3,800km).
IndiGo would be the launch customer for the A321P2F in India and could become the largest operator in the future too. The low-cost giant currently operates 228 A320 family aircraft and has hundreds of more on order.
For IndiGo, the A321P2F fits perfectly into its fleet, as the airline noted, saying,
“The initiative will make best use of the natural synergies that IndiGo offers, using the same pool of pilots and engineers that fly and service its current fleet.”
This would keep costs low for pilot training and maintenance, both key considerations when buying new planes. The first delivery is scheduled for the first half of 2022, while the remaining three aircraft will join over the next year or so.
The range of the A321P2F opens up several key markets for IndiGo, including Central and East Asia, along with the Middle East. All these regions have seen high cargo demand during the pandemic, giving IndiGo a boost once it launches.
Currently, only one passenger airline in India operates cargo aircraft: SpiceJet. This decision has helped the airline cut losses and offset revenues, a critical need during the pandemic. Now, IndiGo too is looking to enter the market and diversity its operations.
What do you think about IndiGo’s decision to buy new A321P2Fs? Let us know in the comments!