SpiceJet conducts first A340 ‘freighter’ flight

By Damian Brett

SpiceJet A340

Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet has expanded its intercontinental cargo operations with the launch of its first long-haul “freighter” flight.

The carrier utilised an A340 “preighter” — a passenger aircraft with seat removed to maximise cargo capacity — on a flight from Schiphol to Mumbai on August 21 carrying 13 tonnes of cargo and then onto Khartoum in Sudan on August 23.

“SpiceJet is the first and only Indian carrier to operate non-stop cargo services from Europe on a dedicated freighter,” the airline said.

The flight to Khartoum carried 40 tonnes of cargo.

This flight represented SpiceJet’s first non-stop flight to Africa. It had previously flown to Sudan via Ras Al-Khaimah.

While SpiceJet said in its release the aircraft is a freighter, markings appear to suggest it is one of Hi Fly’s temporary preighter aircraft.

The Portugal-based company said that its A340 preighter offers a capacity of around 50 tons and 250 cu m.

It has also temporarily converted two other A340s, an A330 and an A380 into freighter aircraft. 

Ajay Singh, chairman  and managing director at SpiceJet said: “Today is a proud moment and a huge milestone in SpiceJet’s remarkable journey as India’s leading cargo operator as we successfully operated our first wide-body long-haul flight from Europe.

“The induction of our first Airbus A340 cargo aircraft has significantly enhanced our operational capability and will allow us to operate non-stop cargo services across the globe to destinations in Europe, Africa and CIS countries.”

SpiceJet said it had operated more than 5,764 cargo flights and transported over 31,800 tonnes of cargo to India and other areas of the world since March 25.

SpiceJet operated the country’s first cargo-on-seat flight on April 7 carrying vital supplies in passenger cabin & belly space. Since then, the airline has been regularly deploying its B737 and Q400 passenger aircraft to carry cargo in the passenger cabin.

In total, the airline operates five B737s, three Q400s and its A340 as all-cargo aircraft.

SpiceJet’s international cargo network now spans over 42 international destinations that include Amsterdam, Almaty, Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Bahrain, Bangkok, Bishkek, Cambodia, Cairo, Cebu, Chad, Colombo, Dhaka, Doha, Dubai, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Huangzhou, Incheon, Jakarta, Kabul, Kathmandu, Khartoum, Kyrgyzstan, Kuala Lumpur, Kuwait, Male, Myanmar, Rome, Shanghai, Singapore, Sharjah, Sulaymaniyah, Tashkent, Ukraine, among others.

The airline has also been actively using Ras Al-Khaimah airport as a hub for its cargo operations.

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