Air India to lease out two freighters

September 21st, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) National carrier Air India will invite global bids next month for leasing out two of its Airbus A-310 aircraft that are presently being converted into freighters and which are expected to be delivered by the month-end, an official said.Air India had earlier planned to launch a cargo service with the two aircraft but shelved its plan as it could not find profitable routes.

“We decided to lease them out as we could not find a route profitable enough in India,” the official, requesting anonymity, said.

“The two aircraft will be converted to freighters by this month-end. The conversion to cargo configuration is being done in Germany. We will invite bids to lease them out some time next month,” the official added.

Air India has thus far converted six Boeing 737-200 aircraft into freighters as these were considered unsafe for ferrying passengers.

The airline already has leasing agreements with India Post - the country’s postal department - and logistics major Gati for the rest of the aircraft.

Gati signed a joint venture pact with Air India Cargo last month to take on domestic aviation cargo major Blue Dart Express, owned by DHL India, a unit of German postal services giant Deutsche Post.

India Post, which operates one Air India freight aircraft principally for its north-eastern airmail operations, has now asked for three more.

The national carrier made around Rs.4.12 billion from cargo operations in 2000-01, which rose to Rs.8.34 billion in 2007-08. The revenues from cargo contribute nearly 10 percent of its total revenues.

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