UPS Expands Cargo Services in India to Seize Airfreight Boom

A UPS aircraft. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg News)

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UPS Inc. opened a second airport cargo-handling facility in India to capture soaring pandemic-driven demand for airfreight.

The 15,000-square-foot space in Bengaluru’s international airport will connect south India’s automotive, textile, defense and aerospace manufacturing hubs to parts of Asia, Europe and America, Deepak Shrivastava, managing director of UPS’ local unit, said in an interview. UPS will fly Boeing Co. 747-8 aircraft to Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, five times a week and operate six weekly Delhi flights.

“India is very important when it comes to raw materials feeding the rest of the world,” Ismet Demirel, director of transportation for UPS in India, the Middle East and Africa, said in the same interview. “The importance of having us in Bangalore is to give our customers an agile network so they can reach out to the world quicker than before.”

A boom in e-commerce during the pandemic, combined with supply chain disruptions at ports worldwide, has boosted demand for transporting goods by air. Carriers in India and elsewhere are deploying dedicated cargo planes after COVID grounded many passenger jets that would typically carry some freight in their bellies.

Atlanta-based UPS is also expanding its presence in Africa, where it will use e-commerce firm Jumia Technologies AG’s distribution network. And it acquired same-day delivery startup Roadie in October.

The parcel-delivery giant placed a $1.5 billion order for 19 Boeing 767 freighters in December that will be delivered between 2023 and 2025. UPS has a fleet of almost 600 aircraft serving more than 220 countries and territories, according to Demirel.

“Air cargo demand will remain strong,” he said. “Especially this quarter there are more commercials coming to the market with belly capacity, but they are still very careful about bringing back the frequency as the pandemic is coming back and the number of cases is increasing in Asia and Europe.”

UPS, which opened its first gateway in India at Delhi airport in 2020, recently teamed up with IndiGo’s parent InterGlobe Enterprises Ltd. to form a joint venture called Movin that will focus on domestic business-to-business logistics and begin services in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru this month.

UPS picked 747-8 aircraft as they are 16% more fuel efficient than 747-400 jets, Demirel said. The company aims to turn carbon neutral by 2050. The 747-8 is the largest aircraft in the UPS fleet, with a payload capacity of 307,000 pounds (139,250 kilograms), which will reduce emissions with fewer flights needed, he said.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

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