Air India aims for 300% cargo growth in 5 years

An Air India A321 flight on the tarmac at Chennai bound for Delhi.
Photo Credit: Gaurav Gowda
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

As part of its five-year growth and development plan, Air India is gearing up to revolutionize the freight and cargo ecosystem in India and across the world.

Through recent initiatives, Air India is not only positioning itself as a major cargo carrier but also contributing significantly to the development of an efficient air cargo supply chain, thereby accelerating India’s exports.

Expansion of belly capacity

Air India’s passenger fleet will experience a substantial growth in belly capacity in the upcoming years. The addition of new wide-body aircraft to the fleet, expected this year and beyond, will complement India’s thriving manufacturing and export sectors.

With a firm order for 34 A350-1000, six A350-900, 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and 10 Boeing 777X wide-body aircraft, Air India’s annual cargo capacity will soar by a staggering 300%, reaching 2 million tonnes within the next five years.

These aircraft will enable non-stop connections to key export markets worldwide.

Air India ordered up to 290 Boeing aircraft.
Photo Credit: Boeing.

Vision of Air India CEO and MD, Campbell Wilson

The CEO and MD of Air India, Campbell Wilson, envisions tremendous potential in the air cargo industry, in line with the Indian Government’s plans to grow the sector to 10 million tonnes by 2030.


To realize this vision, the cargo division is implementing a series of strategic measures aimed at fostering growth and strengthening their market presence.

The increase in passenger belly capacity will be complemented by the introduction of value-added products and services across the Air India network.

Embracing technology

Air India is staying ahead of the curve by embracing the latest IT solutions, including blockchain, AI, and drones.

By optimizing productivity through these technological advancements, Air India aims to enhance efficiency in various areas, such as electronic data interchange, seamless connectivity with trade partners, and real-time updates on flight and shipment status.

These initiatives will enable it to offer a wide range of services, from pharmaceutical logistics and door-to-door delivery with global partners to e-commerce, carriage of valuables, pets, cold chain solutions for perishables, mail, and trans-shipment with connection windows.

An Air India flight is loaded at Mumbai Airport.
Photo Credit: Ginevrajocosa88, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Investment in infrastructure

Recognizing the importance of robust infrastructure, Air India, in partnership with SATS, is committed to investing significant capital expenditure for the development of airport and logistics facilities.

In addition, the airline is exploring opportunities to augment freighter capacity through collaborations with partners.

Integrated cargo market

Air India is set to launch three 24×7 control centers, which will integrate and improve customer interface, customer service, and operations efficiency.

With the expanding domestic network, the Indian airline’s integrated cargo market will provide efficient, streamlined, and cost-effective connectivity for point-to-point transportation to short and long-haul destinations throughout the network.

As India’s Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets witness an upsurge in domestic e-commerce and other businesses, Air India’s presence will gain momentum.

Expanding reach

To bolster exports, Air India is actively expanding its reach through strategic partnerships and collaborations. By strengthening interline partnerships and trucking network connections, the airline aims to enhance its export capabilities.

Presently, the carrier serves over 40 international and 38 domestic destinations for cargo transportation.

The airline has also partnered with offline trucking points across the globe, in addition to coordinating with service providers at Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru airports to boost trans-shipment efficiency and volume at India’s main global hubs.

Diverse product carriage

With the increase in capacity and adoption of technology, Air India’s diverse carriage of products and services will thrive on a global stage.

The airline will cater to the movement and delivery of pharma logistics, door-to-door logistics through global partners, e-commerce, express services, general cargo, valuables, sensitive goods, pet transportation, personal effects, and strengthened cold chain solutions for perishables, among others.

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