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AI to launch cargo service by month-end

Air India is set to launch its cargo service on the Frankfurt and Paris routes with Airbus A-310s and long-distance non-stop flight to the US.

business Updated: Jun 17, 2007 13:43 IST

Air India is set to launch its cargo service this month-end and long-distance non-stop flight to the US from August 1.

Air India will launch its cargo service on the Frankfurt and Paris routes with Airbus A-310s, two of which have been converted into cargo freighters, Air India Chairman V Thulasidas said adding, "The non-stop US flight to New York will start on August 1 with the new Boeing 777-200 ER to be delivered sometime in July."

The airline has eight A-310s, of which two have been converted into cargo at Dresden, Germany, and the remaining would be converted depending upon requirements, Thulasidas told PTI in Mumbai.

Air India would operate its cargo service under the name of Air India Cargo and proposes to convert six-seven old Boeing 737-200s into cargo freighters with Alliance Air for operations in domestic routes and for neighbouring countries after its merger with Indian, he said.

The cargo service will initially connect Damam, Paris and Frankfurt, he said. Indications available suggest that it would operate on the Gulf and European destinations from Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.

Thulasidas said Air India will be among the youngest global airlines which would have acquired 60 Boeing and 43 Airbus aircraft by the end of this decade.

It is also refurbishing six Boeing 747-400s in its fleet, with the first such aircraft delivered on Friday.

All the six aircraft are being refurbished in-house in Mumbai, Thulasidas said, adding this was being done as they have a good residual life to enable the airlines more than recover the costs.

However, the airline has decided not to convert its three ageing Boeing 747-300s into cargo freighters as it was cost- prohibitive.

Presently, no one in the world carries out conversion of Boeing 747-300s and if Air India chooses to do so, then it would have to pay for tooling and other infrastructure, which would add to the cost of conversion.

The Boeing 747-300s would be phased out with the arrival of new aircraft, Thulasidas said.