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Photo: local sources

A private jet crash at Mumbai Airport yesterday evening, sent shockwaves through the Indian shipping and logistics industry as more details emerged.

On board the ill-fated nine-seater Learjet 45 VT-DBL aircraft, flying in from Visakhapatnam (southern India), were Dhruv Kotak, MD of Mumbai-based JM Baxi Group, Lars Sorensen, MD of Hapag-Lloyd India, and KK Krishnadas, a veteran of the local marine terminal arena and COO of JM Baxi, along with five others, including crew members. All survived, but with injuries.

Mr Sorensen is an ex-Maersk Group executive, who also held key management roles at Damco.  Founded in 1916, JM Baxi is a fast-growing diversified logistics group, with a terminal arm now 40% owned by Hapag-Lloyd.

According to reports, the aircraft – owned by New Delhi-based charter service provider VSR Ventures – broke apart in the middle of the fuselage over the wings after skidding off the runway while landing amid heavy rainfall and poor visibility.

The crash victims were rushed to a local hospital.  Some sustained severe injuries, according to initial reports.

Reports also said the accident only briefly impacted normal flight operations at the busy airport.

“Exemplary timely response ensured swift execution of rescue operations, resulting in zero casualties, securing the airside with immediate removal of debris and safeguarding the well-being of all passengers and restoration of normal operations in peak hours,” the airport authority said.

Officials are trying to determine the cause of the incident.

Baxi Group has rapidly expanded its marine terminal footprint in India over the past few years, propelled by new concession contracts at Nhava Sheva (JNPT) and Tuticorin.  In the Nhava Sheva Freeport Terminal , the company is an equal JV partner with CMA Terminals, while it recently took full ownership of the Visakhapatnam box terminal by buying out the minority stake previously held by DP World.

The bigger boost came earlier this year. Hapag-Lloyd acquired a 40% stake in Baxi’s terminal arm, JMBPL, demonstrating the carrier’s clear ambitions to extend its reach beyond port-to-port shipping.

That deal – critical to the integrator role global liners increasingly target – builds on a past ship agency contract between Baxi Group and Hapag-Lloyd, before the latter opened an owned entity in India.

In addition to a network of six box terminals across five Indian port locations, JMBPL’s interests include inland depots, project cargo logistics, dry/bulk liquid terminals and rail yards.  

You can contact the writer at [email protected].

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