Blue Dart adds Boeing 757 to fleet

News Clip : Business Line, Mumbai

31st May, 2006.

New aircraft to increase capacity from 166 tonnes to 250 tonnest

Blue Dart Express Ltd (BDEL) on Tuesday informed the addition of two leased Boeing 757 freighters to the fleet of its 40 per cent associate. Blue Dart Aviation Ltd (BDAL). Besides being bigger aircraft capable of long and short haul flights, the 757s have controlled temperature ambience aboard for cargo requiring such facility.

"We have introduced the 757s at a time when the Indian economy is aiming at a GDP growth of 10 per cent. India relies heavily on domestic consumption, which projects a growing distribution requirement," Mr Malcolm Monteiro, Managing Director, Blue Dart Express, said at a press briefing. He declined to reveal the lease cost.

The new aircraft, one positioned at Chennai and the other at Kolkata, will increase the capacity on Blue Dart Aviation's regular night flights from 166 tonnes to 250 tonnes. The routes for these flights have traditionally run along a crescent linking cities such as Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. It was being serviced by Boeing 737-200 freighters, of which BDAL owns five.

New Service Pattern
Under the new service pattern, the 757s would be positioned at the tips of the crescent with one commencing flight from Kolkata, the other from Chennai. The 737 aircraft would be used for a direct link from Bangalore to Delhi and zig-zag links to the metros through major cities such as Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

The four metros, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad account for 90 per cent of total air cargo destination.

While the737s have been operating at a load factor of 88 per cent, the new aircraft are expected to touch that level very soon, possibly within the first month of operations itself. Blue Dart Aviation carries only cargo advanced to it by Blue Dart Express and the latter has been building up throughput for the new aircraft, Niteen Gupte, Managing Director, BDAL, said. Flights using the new aircraft start from June 1.

Maintenance here
This is the first time that Boeing 757 aircraft are being flown by a domestic operator. Leased from European Air Transport Services, their maintenance can be done here itself; Blue Aviation has known maintenance skill in Boeing 737-200 aircraft (it can do both C and D checks for that aircraft type). The 757s are 17 and 18 year old and had been converted for freighter operations when BDAL showed interest. Blue Dart Aviation is owned 40 per cent by Blue Dart Express, the balance equity split evenly between BDEL's original promoters, Mr Tushar Jani and Mr Khusroo Dubash.

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