India’s SpiceJet To Use An Airbus A340 For Cargo Flights

SpiceJet is preparing to take delivery of its first widebody jet. An all-narrowbody operator, this is an exciting occasion for the airline and will open its network to new and previously unexplored markets. But don’t hold out for a seat onboard the SpiceJet A340, because this aircraft is going to be for cargo operations only.

India’s SpiceJet To Use An Airbus A340 For Cargo Flights
SpiceXpress is adding an A340 to its fleet of Dash-8 and Boeing 737 aircraft. Photo: Airbus

A widebody freighter for SpiceJet

Indian airline SpiceJet has revealed today that it is expecting delivery of an A340 freighter to add to its cargo fleet. This, the first widebody to be inducted into the cargo operations, will allow SpiceJet to carry more cargo further than ever before.

The A340 has a capacity of 35-tons and will allow SpiceJet to enter into new markets, including Africa, Europe and the CIS. It will join SpiceJet’s fleet of eight dedicated freighters, consisting of three Bombardier Q-400s and five Boeing 737s.

Hi Fly A340 conversion
The A340 has a vast capacity for cargo. Photo: Hi Fly

Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet Ajay Singh commented on the addition of the A340 in a statement, saying,

“The induction of our first wide-body cargo aircraft will be a huge game changer in our remarkable journey that has seen SpiceJet emerge as the country’s largest cargo operator. We are confident that our long-haul cargo flights would further help boost Indian businesses, farmers, pharma companies providing them seamless access to newer markets.”

SpiceJet’s cargo operations are currently limited to India and nearby Asian and Middle Eastern destinations. Its network stretches as far east as Hong Kong and the Philippines, while to the west, it arrives in Ukraine. It has been using the airport at Ras Al-Khaimah as a westerly hub for its operations, and with the A340 in its fleet, it will be able to start making inroads into the busy markets of Europe and Africa.

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Cargo has been a lifesaver

It was September 2018 when SpiceJet became the first Indian airline with a dedicated cargo service, extending its ‘belly cargo’ operations to a dedicated freighter mission, using its Boeing 737s. Since feeling the impact of the COVID outbreak, the airline’s cargo arm, SpiceXpress, has been a lifeline.

SpiceXpress is the biggest cargo carrier in India by quite some way. Photo: SpiceXpress

The cargo business has been generating cash for SpiceJet, even when its passenger operations were grounded. SpiceXpress has now become the biggest cargo operation in India, growing every day. Singh previously told Businessworld that,

“During the lockdown between March 25 and May 6, we have operated around 825 cargo flights carrying 6,000 tonne of cargo—this is more than double of all domestic airlines combined together.”

By the first week in May, SpiceJet had operated almost 1,000 cargo flights, taking advantage of the rising rates for cargo shipments and cashing in on this lucrative income stream. Now, with the widebody freighter added to its fleet, SpiceJet will be free to explore new markets and to compete with international cargo operators for their slice of the market.

Will you be keen to see SpiceXpress arriving in Europe and other new destinations? Let us know in the comments.