CFA 2016: Challenges, opportunities for Indian airfreight

HONG KONG — Attendees hit the ground running at today’s commencement of the fifth annual Cargo Facts Asia symposium, held in Hong Kong. Participants enjoyed both informative panel discussions, as well as ample opportunities to connect with the industry’s best and brightest.

The conference began with an exploration into the opportunities and challenges facing India’s airfreight market, delivered in the form of an intimate fireside chat between Royal Media CEO, JJ Hornblass, and the managing director of Blue Dart Aviation Ltd., Tulsi Mirchandaney.

Since Blue Dart’s humble beginnings as an airfreight supplier twenty years ago, the Indian market has witnessed the emergence and exit of many players. Blue Dart, however, has continued its steady growth under Mirchandaney’s leadership. In 2004, DHL took a majority stake in the airline’s parent company, Blue Dart Express — a venture that has contributed significantly to the airline’s average growth of 6 percent per year in recent years.

From its Chennai base, Blue Dart Aviation launched with a single 737-200F, but has since upgraded to larger 757 freighters. Mirchandaney said that a shortage of landing slots at key hubs was the driving force behind the airline’s decision to introduce 757 freighters with larger payloads, as the aging 737s were phased out.

Now, for a few highlights from the fireside chat. In this first video, Mirchandaney describes three unique challenges facing the Indian airfreight industry, and Blue Dart’s ability to overcome them: the high price of jet fuel, airport privatization, and regulatory constraints. Although such restraints make for a challenging environment, according to Mirchandaney and the operating performance of her company, “they are not insurmountable.”

We close with a glimpse into Mirchandaney’s hopeful outlook for both Blue Dart, and the airfreight industry in India.

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Charles Kauffman

Charles Kauffman is the Senior Editor of Air Cargo World Magazine, and the publication's sister newsletter, Cargo Facts. Charles holds a BA in International Studies from the University of Washington, and an MA in International Relations from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He speaks Mandarin and Spanish.