SpiceJet Continues Shrimp Ferry Flights Despite Lockdown

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SpiceJet has continued to serve shrimp communities through the lockdown, ferrying 950 tonnes of shrimp since March 25th. The airline had previously launched dedicated freighter flights for shrimp to prevent wastage. The lockdown doesn’t seem to have hampered these plans, and the airline plans to continue ferrying agricultural products.

SpiceJet 737 Freighter
SpiceJet has continued to serve the shrimping community through the lockdown. Photo: N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons

Lockdown not affecting plans

Back in February, SpiceJet announced plans to launch dedicated flights to carry shrimp from coastal towns to inland processing plants. These plans fell under the government’s new initiative to incentivize airlines to transport agricultural produce, known as “Krishi Udan.” Flights began on February 25th, using the 737Fs from SpiceXpress, SpiceJet’s cargo arm.

A SpiceJet Boeing 737
SpiceJet has carried over 200,000 tonnes of agricultural produce during the lockdown. Photo: Jonathan Payne via Flickr

However, just a month after these flights began, India entered a lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus. This lockdown came with a complete flight ban, which forced airlines to carry cargo instead. While SpiceJet has been carrying critical medical supplies from all over Asia, it seems to have kept its commitment to the shrimp community too.

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SpiceJet has carried 950 tonnes of shrimp during the lockdown, bringing its total to 1,550 tonnes since flights began. The airline has carried over 200,000 tonnes of agricultural produce during the lockdown to several domestic and international destinations. This is in addition to 6,550 tonnes of coronavirus supplies.

Cargo the new lifeline for airlines

While flights remain banned until May 17th, airlines have turned towards cargo as a new source of revenue. While SpiceJet is the only airline with a fleet of dedicated cargo aircraft, the 737 freighter, other airlines have opted to place cargo on seats too. This has allowed airlines to operate a number of freighter flights, carrying supplies all over the world.

Indian airlines Getty
Airlines have turned to all-cargo flights as a new source of revenue during the lockdown. Photo: Getty Images

This phenomenon has become common all over the world, with some airlines even removing seats to make room for cargo. Before the lockdown, the Indian international freight market was dominated by foreign players. However, with airlines now investing more in cargo operations, we could see this market become more competitive.

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Overall

SpiceJet has struggled during the lockdown and has taken a number of drastic measures to cut costs. The airline recently announced that it wouldn’t pay pilots for April or May, only paying the pilots who flew for the flight hours accrued. The airline has also cut salaries across the board and is mulling cutting jobs. Recently, lessors have considered repossessing their planes from the airline.

SpiceJet’s commitment to the agriculture industry will likely have prevented tonnes of produce going to waste and saved jobs. With the only flights in the air being cargo or repatriation ones, SpiceJet has ensured a steady stream of revenue in these highly turbulent times for the airline.

What do you think about SpiceJet’s shrimp operations and financial struggles? Let us know in the comments below.

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