Currently, it has a cargo network in 13 domestic destinations and after recently launching a cargo service to Europe, the airline aims to expand its wings to more promising markets.
The airline is estimated to generate a revenue of nearly Rs 700 crore in the 2007-08 fiscal from cargo operations alone.
Says V Thulasidas, CMD, Air India, My team is studying various markets like China and Japan for enhancing our cargo network.
However, at present, an Airbus 310 has been converted into a freighter aircraft, which makes four trips a week via Bangalore and Chennai to Frankfurt and Paris.
It will eventually cover more destinations as we convert more aircraft into freighter fleet, he adds.
Currently, the cargo division contributes 8-10% of the total revenues of Air India and by enhancing its network to other destinations in the Middle-East and the UK, the contribution of the cargo division will account for nearly 50% of the total revenues.
An official from the cargo division of Air India adds that the airline's current market share in the exports segment is in the range of 9-11% and 5-7% in the import segment.
Owing to the upsurge in the import-export demand resulting from the Open Sky Policy and globalisation factors, Air India has decided to ramp up cargo operations, he says.
To support their cargo operations, Air India has developed an indigenous system of inventory management for cargo handling of import/export functions. This takes care of the entire management of cargo, supports electronic data interface (EDI) messages with Indian Customs and replaces to a great extent the existing paper correspondence between the Customs, airlines, and the custodians.