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Indian air freight forwarders are upbeat on the outlook for AOG (aircraft-on-ground) and aero parts shipments imports as carrier fleets grow rapidly.

Mumbai-based Jet Freight Logistics (JFL) is an emerging player in this complex and specialised logistics vertical.

It said India’s growing focus on aerospace manufacturing had opened opportunities for international companies to establish strategic partnerships with manufacturers, which it believes will propel a greater flow of aircraft component imports.

“We have the expertise, resources and networks to manage such urgent deliveries effectively,” JFL chairman Richard Theknath told The Loadstar.

The major Indian import destinations for AOG shipments are Delhi and Mumbai, with sporadic movements into Chennai and Bangalore, but Joy John, director of sea and air freight at JFL, said demand was seeing significant traction as the Indian aviation industry expanded.

“With the increasing complexity of aircraft manufacture, the need for quick and efficient delivery of spares is becoming more significant,” he said.

Vineet Malhotra, co-founder and director at Kale Logistics Solutions, agreed, and added: “AOG imports are extremely time-critical. Any delay in getting a required part to its destination would lead to flight delays, cancellations, huge losses in revenue and unhappy customers.”

And he noted that technologies like AI and predictive analysis “have a perfect use case here”.

Apart from typical challenges tied to swift and efficient delivery of spares, AOG forwarders must comply with cumbersome regulatory requirements. Mr Theknath said: “Forwarders also need to work under tight timelines, ensure security and maintain constant communication with all parties involved.”

The location of the aircraft and the specific needs of the airline are critical factors he noted, adding: “The import destinations for AOG shipments vary, depending on aircraft type and the parts that need to be replaced or repaired.”

Northern India-based Air Works Group and GMR Group already have maintenance facilities for Airbus and Boeing aircraft in Hyderabad.

Following a historic deal, when Air India ordered 250 aircraft from Airbus and 220 from Boeing, the latter last month announced a partnership with GMR Aero Technic to set up a freighter conversion facility in Hyderabad, a first in the subcontinent.

Salil Gupte, president of Boeing India, said the MRO centre would support potential growth in the air cargo industry in the region, as the US aircraft manufacturer expects the Indian airline fleet to quadruple by 2041.

The announcement followed news of a $24m investment by Boeing for a logistics centre project in India to provide support services for its airline customers.

Meanwhile, the domestic Tata Group is looking to bid on Air India Engineering Services (AIESL), reportedly in a JV arrangement with Lufthansa Technik and Air France-KLM, once the government agrees to its privatisation plan. AIESL was founded to provide MRO services to Air India’s fleet.

The demand for air freight capacity out of India is on the up, driving an influx of cargo-only start-ups that have begun a raft of chartered routes with modified planes. And buoyed by strong growth signals, New Delhi is working on plans to set up some 100 new airports by 2024, which are expected to create further investment opportunities for global players.

You can reach the writer at [email protected].

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