Where Has SpiceJet Been Flying Its Airbus A340 Leased From HiFly

Last August, SpiceJet leased a converted Airbus A340 from Hi Fly for cargo operations. Since then, the carrier has added four more widebodies to its fleet, including three A340s in total. But where does SpiceJet fly these converted freighters? Let’s find out.

Hi Fly Airbus A340
SpiceJet has leased three “preighters” from Hi Fly to fly cargo on long-haul routes to Europe and beyond. Photo: Kamezukakofun via Wikimedia Commons

Where is it flying?

SpiceJet’s cargo arm, SpiceXpress, exclusively flies one A340-300, registered 9H-JAI, and occasionally leases two more for additional flights, 9H-FOX and 9H-SUN. Data from Radarbox.com gives us details about where the low-cost airline has been flying these widebodies in the last eight months.

9H-JAI was SpiceXpress’s first A340 and is the only one to carry the airline’s livery. Outside its home bases of Delhi (180 flights) and Mumbai (60), the airline’s most visited destination is Frankfurt, Germany, another major cargo hub. SpiceJet has flown 37 services to the airport in eight months, more than one a week.

Hong Kong, a city SpiceXpress previously operated flights to as well, is a close second for the A340. The airline has flown 34 flights to the city, with flights ramping up in recent days. The only African destination to see substantial flights from SpiceXpress was Khartoum, Sudan, with 15 services.

SpiceXpress has grown dominant in the cargo market between Central Asia and India in recent months. The airline flew 22 services from Almaty, Kazakhstan, followed by 19 flights from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and 11 from Moscow Domodedovo. Combined, Central Asia is clearly SpiceJet’s busiest cargo market.

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To understand how busy the SpiceXpress A340-300 has been, it is important to study the aircraft utilization charts. Data clearly shows that both monthly flights and hours flown jumped considerably once SpiceXpress leased the aircraft at the end of August. In September, the aircraft flew 56 flights, nearly two a day, and 258 hours in total, with an average flight time of 4.5 hours.

9H-JAI Aircraft Utilization
SpiceJet’s lease began in late August 2020, which means only data after September should be considered. Data: RadarBox.com

However, after a strong September and October, traffic has slowed down. In February 2021, the aircraft only flew 26 flights, but these flights were slightly longer at five hours each on average. March is proving to be a stronger month for the A340, but nowhere close to the highs seen in the earlier months.

The drop in usage could be for several reasons. One could be that SpiceJet’s growing fleet of cargo aircraft has eased pressures from the single A340. The second could be that the global shortage of cargo of flights has decreased as more airlines resume services. However, there remains strong demand for cargo flights to and from India for now, a market SpiceJet has largely cornered.

The only one

SpiceJet is one of two major cargo airlines based in India, along with Blue Dart Aviation. This dominance has meant that SpiceJet’s traffic grew dramatically went the pandemic hit and passenger flights to India were banned. In the second quarter of 2020 alone, cargo revenue at SpiceJet rose by 144%, underscoring the demand.

SpiceXpress SpiceJet Cargo Getty
SpiceXpress has seen traffic and revenue grow dramatically in the last year as passenger airlines carrying cargo disappeared overnight. Photo: Getty Images

What do you think about SpiceJet’s A340 usage? Let us know in the comments!