This could be the ‘new normal’ if Jet Airway’s prototype of “Cargo on Seats” reaches commercial scale. The design of the model was presented to at the Retail Leadership Survey 2013.
Much has been written about India’s logistical problems – Trucks carrying cargo on the road, move at average speeds of 20km/hr, and because 55% of all cargo moves via road, the country pays an extra Rs 60,600 crores per annum as extra fuel cost, plus Rs 30,000 crores, on account of delays in road transport.
Air cargo has a tiny share of the market – about 1% – which is logical given that it is an expensive mode of transport.
The team at Jet Airways – ‘stumbled’ on the opportunity – when they realized that for products which are perishable or otherwise time sensitive, with high holding and warehousing costs – there was a case to consider using air cargo – simply because of the economics involved.
Consider this – Drumsticks are sold at Rs. 10 per kg by farmer in Bangalore, but retail at Rs.60 per kg at a supermarket in DELHI. The goods travel by road for 5 days and there is 45% in-transit wastage. An Air Cargo Solution – which delivers almost 100% of produce within 24 hrs could provide better price realization to the farmers, at the same price to the customer.
After a couple of experiments where the team initially moved cargo during the night – they realized that the saleable solution was to move cargo along with passengers in the cabin. However – the belly capacity could only provide 6 tonnes of additional cargo – and to be viable – they needed to move between 8 and 10 tonnes (depending on the model of the aircraft) of cargo per flight. The solution? “Cargo on seats”. Mail and courier cargo could be moved into the cabin, to occupy empty seats, with the passengers. This created the required 8 to 10 tonnes of belly space.
Internationally, there are several patents for “on-board” cargo containers and Jet was able to source specially designed and manufactured passenger seat cargo containers.
The ‘container’ meets all airworthiness, performance and flammability requirements, has a ‘tare’ weight of 6 kgs, can accommodate 225 kgs (i.e. equal to 3 adults) of cargo, and takes 10 minutes to assemble.
They are in the process of obtaining the necessary permissions from the DGCA for commercial operations.
If successful, it could ensure that there will never be an empty seat on their fleet again.
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