As Jet Airways launches its first frequencies to Dubai, Abraham Joseph, senior general manager for Gulf, Middle East and North Africa, takes a look at the freight trends being witnessed both in the Gulf and India.
With this new destination in Dubai, what sort of capacity are you expecting?
We have space for four pallets on each of our Airbus A330s. We expect that the majority of these movements to be between India and Dubai, but we also have the capacity to freight cargo to Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Moreover, in India we also have an extensive road trucking transportation system for particularly large consignments. At the moment we are looking at a number of bigger airlines for more substantial interline agreements, although for obvious reasons I would prefer not to go into details until matters have been finalised. In Dubai, we have a long history of commercial cooperation with Emirates.
They have a huge network in the Gulf and we have a similarly large network in India, so we can often find a lot of synergies in our business strategies when we work together.
Was the cargo angle an important part of the reasoning to add these frequencies to Jet Airways' network?
These days you can't afford to ignore any aspect of airline revenue and cargo is a very substantial element of the puzzle for us. In fact, Jet Airways already has a very dedicated cargo team at our head office and we also have a team here in Dubai.
Dubai is only place in the Gulf region where we have an onsite cargo team; our other destinations are actually managed by our general sales agents. In Dubai, we have eight pallets being unloaded every day and we need that team to handle processing our growing numbers of orders as well as supervising loading and unloading.
What other destinations in the Gulf do you serve and are you planning on building up a freighter-only fleet?
We already fly to most of the Gulf destinations. We started operations in Kuwait and Bahrain and then expanded to Muscat, Doha and Abu Dhabi. In October we are adding Jeddah to our growing network.
There are no plans to purchase freighter aircraft as yet, but this obviously depends on our capacity and how we grow as a business.
What sort of product trends have you witnessed in the freight markets?
From India we have seen a lot of fresh produce and my colleagues on-station in the country tell me that our cargo handling capacity is full most of the time. Having said that, India is primarily an export-driven market and there is a large demand for many materials produced there.
So what we plan to do is move slightly away from fresh and perishable products and move towards other consignments that have a wider demand outside India. Then we will be in a position to freight these goods into Dubai and send them worldwide through interline agreements with a number of other carriers.
What are your main cargo hubs and points in the Indian market?
We have 45 India destinations and the main hubs are the metro cities like Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai and Bangalore. These metropolitan locations have around 20 bonded warehouses, which enable us to transport freight to the smaller outside points without time-consuming customs procedures.
If it is a heavy or large consignment it may not be possible, but smaller packages, which are more likely to be time-sensitive, can be cleared straightaway - and more and more of these bonded warehouses are currently being built.
It's exciting times for Indian airfreight with new companies coming online. What does the future hold for India's cargo market?
Air cargo has a fantastic future in India. A lot of cargo-only airlines are starting up and we are also expanding as a business - but there is certainly huge market potential that is there to be tapped.
At Jet Airways, we feel that if you give the client a good service and timely delivery of consignments you will gain recognition through word of mouth, thereby attracting more customers.
We take a lot of pride in our cargo product and treat cargo with the same Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsoft hands' and consideration with which we treat our passengers. We feel we are the only company in the region which lavishes the same care on our cargo as we do on our passengers.
There is gigantic potential in the Indian export market - and let's not forget the import market as well, especially as the country nowadays imports a multitude of products.