Blue Dart Aviation Ltd. was incorporated in May 1994 as a 100% subsidiary of Blue Dart Express Limited, and launched its operations with a fleet of 2 Boeing 737-200 freighters on the 17th June 1996. Blue Dart Aviation Ltd. was created primarily to support the growing demands of Blue Dart Express Ltd. In an express industry where growth, year over year, consistently exceeded 35%, the management viewed the delivery capabilities of the domestic airlines inadequate and a limitation to the explosive growth of air express.
The restricted day flights and capacities oriented to passenger requirements were not consonant with the demands of the express market, which is committed to morning deliveries that rely on guaranteed space and late night operations. Taking a cue from the enormous success of the U.S. express industry, which started with a 4% share in 1977, averaged a compounded annual growth rate of 25% and progressed to claim close to 60% of the U.S. market, Blue Dart Express Ltd. made a path-breaking decision to create its own infrastructure and buy its own aircraft. It set up the first domestic freighter operations in India.
The night operations were designed to meet the specific needs of the business community as they focused on late night cut-offs and early morning deliveries. Shipments originating from a city at the end of the business day could arrive before the start of the next business day at their destinations. Customers could now rely on air capacity that was focused to service business needs and not passenger travel schedules.
A third aircraft was inducted into the network in February 2001, to meet increased customer demand. A fourth aircraft was acquired in June 2003 to augment capacity and connect a sixth aviation hub, Hyderabad, and a fifth aircraft was inducted in December 2004, to support Blue Dart’s future expansion plans.
Two Boeing 757 freighters have been inducted into the network from June 2006, and Ahmedabad has been connected as the 7th aviation hub. Hyderabad was been connected as an outbound gateway to the rest of the country with an additional flight.
Today, Blue Dart Aviation has a fleet of four Boeing 757 and two Boeing 737 freighters, providing a network payload of 300 tonnes across 60 route connections each night.
Blue Dart Express Limited has divested 60% of its shareholding in Blue Dart Aviation Ltd. on 11th March 2005, and Blue Dart Aviation has since been contracted to provide dedicated services to Blue Dart Express Limited.
Blue Dart Aviation Ltd. has many firsts to its credit:
The first Indian-manufactured main deck loaders at all its 5 on-line stations – Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata in 1996. The specs were provided by Blue Dart Aviation, and design and manufacture undertaken by a Coimbatore-based manufacturer, MAK Control, in a 4-month period at less than 20% of the cost of the international equivalent.
In collaboration with the Madras Institute of Technology, it has developed the only Indian software for handling of the Load and Trim Sheet, STAB (System of Trimming and Balancing), curtailing handling time by 80%. It has also developed the following software applications, in-house, that have resulted in improved safety standards, enhanced efficiency in daily operations, better time-management, lower manpower costs, and cost-savings in operations because of increased fuel efficiency:
– SALIM (System for Aircraft Logistics Inventory Management).
– FUSION (Flight Updating, Scheduling, Inquiries and Operational Notes)
– SODA (System of Digital Flight Data Recorder Analysis)
– VINDAS (Voice Integrated Data Analysis System) – integrating the cockpit voice recorder in real-time with the Digital Flight Data Recorder.
Its own maintenance capability to clear aircraft through the D-Check level.
Warehouses at all the 7 airports are equipped with X-ray machines, making it the only private operator capable of accepting freight without the requisite cooling-period for security.
Bonded warehouses with customs personnel to enable transhipment of cargo within India. Established at substantial initial investment to the company, this facility has enabled distribution of imports within the country, has provided exports access to and from the gateways of international airlines, and resulted in returns for the organization. Given the high operating costs and decreasing yields, this facility provides international airlines a cost-effective option to restrict their on-line stations and enhance their marketing possibilities by utilizing the distribution capabilities of Blue Dart Aviation.
India’s first Boeing 757 freighters.