During the coronavirus-induced lockdown that was imposed on March 25, the government permitted operations of only cargo and special flights while suspending all scheduled domestic and international air services.
Besides, the government also allowed airlines to carry cargo within passenger cabin and on seats, apart from the aircraft belly. Though scheduled domestic air services resumed operations in a phased manner from May 25, the regular international flights remain suspended.
"SpiceJet has operated 9,950 flights (till Nov 12) since the lockdown began on March 25, carrying 77,000 tonnes of cargo during the period," a SpiceJet spokesperson told PTI. The airline also emerged as the top international cargo operator in October from India's largest airport, New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, he said.
During the previous month, SpiceJet handled a total of 3,850 tonnes of cargo, including 1,731 tonnes of exported cargo, according to the spokesperson. "I am proud of the stellar performance of our cargo operations that has seen us emerged as the largest international cargo operator, among both Indian and foreign carriers operating out of the Delhi airport in October," SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said in a statement to PTI.
The airline is hopeful of maintaining this momentum and strong performance, going forward, Singh added. SpiceJet, which has a dedicated fleet of nine freighter aircraft consisting of five Boeing 737s, three Bombardier Q-400s and one Airbus A340, is the only domestic carrier that has put into operations a widebody cargo plane A340 into cargo operations.
In late-August, it operated its maiden long-haul cargo flight with an A340 freighter aircraft to New Delhi from the Netherlands' capital Amsterdam, making it the first and only Indian carrier to operate non-stop cargo services from Europe on a dedicated freighter.