Qatar is working towards becoming one of the world’s top five global commercial cargo hubs by 2018, and Qatar Airways’ cargo unit will be riding this growth.
In tune with this ambition, the airline will increase capacity by adding six more freighters to its fleet of nine Boeing and Airbus aircraft. In an interview with FE’s Roudra Bhattacharya, Ulrich Ogiermann, chief executive-cargo, Qatar Airways, explains the importance of India in the airline’s expansion plans. The carrier looks to offer sector-specific air cargo solutions in India. Excerpts:
Where do you see the potential for growth in India over the next few years?
The pharmaceutical sector is an important industry and one that has seen major growth and development in India. According to a McKinsey report, the Indian pharmaceutical market will grow to $55 billion by 2020. India is also a major producer of perishable foods. The overall perishable food production in India is over 350 million tonnes.
With the launch of our solution for pharmaceuticals, QR Pharma, in January this year, we are able to provide convenient and reliable air carriage to the important pharmaceutical industry. Our QR Fresh solution offers air freight services for perishables and temperature-sensitive goods. In addition, Qatar Airways has moved to the new Hamad International Airport (HIA) in May. The state-of-the-art cargo facility at HIA, spanning 55,000 square metres, contains a perishables storage area, amongst other key facilities, such as a live animal centre and dangerous goods area. The new self-contained cargo terminal will handle 1.4 million tonnes of cargo per annum.
How many flights do you operate in India at present?
India, with its continued growth in exports, imports and manufacturing industry, has the potential to become a global cargo hub. It is indeed an important market for Qatar Airways’ cargo business. Currently, we operate a total of 12 weekly freighters to Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. On top of that, we use the belly space on our passenger aircraft, operating to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode and Mumbai, for more than 85 flights per week to and from India. We see on-going opportunities for Qatar Airways to further penetrate the Indian market. India is one of our key markets for future growth, and we are confident that cooperation between Qatar Airways’ cargo division and Indian exporters and importers will only grow stronger.
How do you plan to challenge the established players?
Due to the