Boeing yesterday announced an agreement with GMR Aero Technic, the aerospace arm of GMR Group, to establish a new Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) line in Hyderabad. This will enable Boeing/GMR to work together on the conversion of Boeing aircraft from passenger versions to freighters.
Boeing’s BCF line to be set up in India
Boeing announced they would bring their 40 years of experience in passenger-to-freighter conversions to India to offer a conversion line for BCF in Hyderabad, India. The collaboration will add to Boeing’s continued investments to support the growth of cargo and help expand complex aircraft modification capabilities and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) in India. In presence were Mr Marc Allen, Chief Strategy Officer for The Boeing Company and Mr Salil Gupte, President of Boeing India, from Boeing’s side and Mr Ashok Gopinath, CEO, GMR Aero Technic and Mr Pradeep Panicker, CEO – Hyderabad Airport for GMR.
According to Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook, India’s air cargo growth is expected to average 6.3% annually, driven by the country’s manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, including its Make in India initiative. Boeing forecasts demand for more than 75 freighters, including production and converted freighters.
But in an interview with Reuters, Boeing India president Salil Gupte also mentioned that as per a 20-year forecast from Boeing, he expects 1700 aircraft to be converted to freighters, and 600 of these would be requirements originating in India. So, they would be able to service these demands in India. For reference, Airbus has a similar tie-up with ST Engineering in Singapore, and the IndiGo A321 conversions have happened there.
On occasion, Salil Gupte, President of Boeing India, said,
Our cooperation with GMR Aero Technic not only a testimony of the maturation of Indian MROs in the country to support the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, but also supports the anticipated growth of the cargo sector in the region
Ashok Gopinath, CEO, of GMR Aero Technic, said,
With the rise in the Indian aviation industry, MRO services in India has been one of the fastest-growing market globally. The collaboration with Boeing reaffirms our capability to provide world-class MRO services and further contribute to the “Make in India” initiative. We thank Boeing for the opportunity given and look forward to working together for future initiatives.
This move should make those who are looking for an aircraft final assembly line in India happy. I’ve long maintained that there is no business case or ecosystem to support a final assembly line in India for either of the two big carriers, and neither is the tax incentives there. This move could finally show our chops in the segment and put India on a map if future FAL expansions are considered for either player.
Boeing will work with GMR Aero Technic to establish a Boeing Converted Freighter line in the months ahead in Hyderabad. This line will work to convert existing Indian-registered and international aircraft from the passenger variant to the cargo freighter variant under the guidance of Boeing.
What do you think of the market for freighters in the region?
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Both narrow body & wide body aircraft’s are needed for Domestic & International routes. Ecom is also growing substantially. The only skeptical thing here is the economics of running freighters in India as this is a extremely cost conscious market. Freighters operations independently will always be more expensive then carrying cargo on a pax flight.