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Inside India: facing the facts

The development of transport infrastructure, both air and on land, continues to be a challenge for India's growth.
Anil Khanna, managing director, Blue Dart Express.
Anil Khanna, managing director, Blue Dart Express.

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What challenges face a domestic express carrier operating across India?

Facing the facts

The development of transport infrastructure, both on air and land, continues to be a challenge in India.

 

"India does face certain land infrastructure challenges but the government's progressive actions are building."

Rising fuel prices are a concern and have led to higher operating expenses, while any form of political disturbance or disruption can also be detrimental to business.

Like many other businesses, the growth of Blue Dart Express is very closely linked to the growth of India's economy, so any adverse impacts ultimately affect us.

Distribution points

Distribution in India is largely driven by domestic demand. Luckily, our country's development is not restricted only to major metropolitan areas and a growing affluence can also be witnessed in other cities.

The consistently encouraging GDP trends espoused by a prominent rise in manufacturing and other industries promise a positive future for the logistics sector in India.

The current expenditure on logistics in India is roughly 13% while the percentage for more mature economies hovers around 8%. This directly implies that there is ample opportunity to improve efficiencies and cut down on costs.
 

Foreign influence

Despite the threat of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap being lowered, the Indian express sector has experienced a flurry of activity from foreign players in the recent past.

Logistics is likely to follow the trend seen in the retail sector, whereby big corporate houses will arrive on the scene and will undoubtedly include foreign firms.

However, in order for this to happen, transport infrastructure must first be made more efficient and greater regulations must be implemented.

Across the land

Ground transport plays a pivotal role in supporting any airfreight operator as it forms the first and last mile of its operations.

Today, India does face certain land infrastructure challenges but the government's progressive actions are building on capabilities and are a welcome step forward.

However, Blue Dart Express has developed its own resources to ensure that service levels are never compromised by potential infrastructure problems. Our fleet of over 4500 vehicles reached out to over 17,500 locations covered by a workforce of over 5500 trained employees.

Room to take off

Blue Dart Express is constrained by the size of the facilities at Indian airports, as they have remained the same while our loads have increased fivefold. In addition, parking bays, airside/cityside access and traffic congestion adversely impact costs as well as service quality.

We are therefore relieved that the government has stepped up to the issue. Robust plans are now in place, which will provide us with a greater opportunity to facilitate trade and commerce within the country.

Finding a niche

Since its inception, Blue Dart has taken bold futuristic steps when others in the region were simply trying to find their ground.

Through our integrated air and ground infrastructure, advanced technology and professional committed workforce, we can now offer an unmatched door-to-door service across India's expansive geography.

We have found a niche for ourselves in the market and with the support of DHL we have now become a one-stop-shop for all the distribution demands of our customers.

With a market leadership of 41.7% in the domestic air express segment, Blue Dart is strategically positioned to bring people and markets together for a greater India.
 

Leading the way

In 1996, we entered a new chapter in India's aviation and express industry by introducing dedicated cargo aircraft.

Today, we operate the largest fleet of dedicated freighters in India, with three B757s and four B757s offering a total of 300 tonnes each night across 62 route connections.

The recent launch of our ground express product, Dart Surfaceline, has enabled us to now reach over 17,500 locations in India.

A brighter today and tomorrow

Given India's positive economic environment, the logistics industry is sure to witness exciting levels of growth. Market research and our internal estimate currently peg the growth rate of the domestic air express segment at around 18%.

The increasingly time nature sensitive of many goods combined with a growing demand for reliability means the air express sector plays an important role in today's trade and distribution needs.

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