Over the last few months, Vistara augmented its cargo operations and played its part in the fight against COVID-19. By Pallavi Singh
Giving wings to cargo operations
Amid COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions in 2020, there was a faint silver lining that Vistara was nimble to identify and act upon. It was our cargo operations. A suspension of air travel in India for two months and muted demand for passenger travel, following which, the Vistara team was quick to pivot and focus on the demands of the new normal.
Mission Lifeline Udan
Back in April 2020, Vistara rapidly stepped up its cargo operations. It was in support of the Government of India’s ‘Mission Lifeline Udan’ initiative. Vistara deployed its newly inducted Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. It carried relief material, medical supplies and essential commercial goods across various parts of India. This was not an easy task in the middle of a nationwide lockdown. From seeking necessary permissions from authorities to facilitating the cargo consignments on time despite local travel restrictions and safety concerns, the team defied all odds. To sum up, approximately 220 tonnes of cargo—of which 25 tonnes was free of cost—was carried. It comprised of relief material and medical equipment.
Cargo on seats
Vistara conventionally uses the belly space in its passenger aircraft to carry cargo. However, in July 2020, it managed to secure the necessary permissions to carry cargo on seats onboard its Airbus A320neo aircraft. Between July and August 2020, it carried approximately 73 tonnes of cargo, therefore, utilising its spare aircraft and bolstering revenue.
From essentials to electronic goods
Over the last few months, the nature of cargo goods has diversified. It includes everything from dry fruits and spices to garments, and from automobile parts to valuables. For valuables, delivering the goods on time with minimal risk of loss and theft is of paramount importance. From April 2020 till date, 64,000+ cargo flights have taken to air. And carrying about 30,000 tonnes of cargo across India and beyond to London, Dhaka, etc. Then the country embarked on the crucial exercise of distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Vistara prepared itself to support the government.
Mr Vinod Kannan, Chief Commercial Officer, Vistara, states, “The COVID-19 vaccine distribution in India is going to be a one-of-its-kind exercise, and we are committed to playing our part in it. We have been actively supporting the authorities to the best of our abilities in their efforts to curb the pandemic and will continue to do so.” Vistara has distributed approximately 4,25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Given the nature of the commodity, Vistara also ensures an expedited delivery after the arrival of the cargo. Cargo operations brought in revenue at a time when passenger air travel was restricted. There were a lot of learnings with respect to scope and demand for cargo. It will hold Vistara in good stead for the months ahead, as it ramps up its cargo operations.