Watch Lufthansa say hello to India with Namaste India B777 freighter
Lufthansa Cargo's Ashwin Bhat, Mumbai International Airport's Manoj Singh talk to STAT Media Group right on the tarmac.
Last Tuesday (May 31, 2022) Lufthansa Cargo announced the maiden landing of its Boeing 777 freighter named 'Namaste India' in Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) which operated from Frankfurt as part of its four-time weekly service to Mumbai.
Lufthansa Cargo's chief commercial officer Ashwin Bhat and Manoj Singh, senior VP & head - cargo & express, Mumbai International Airport - Adani Airports talk to STAT Media Group right on the tarmac.
The name builds on the pattern established by the carrier of naming its freighter aircraft after significant markets. The airline calls this guiding principle "say hello to the world".
Namaste India is intended to represent the connection between Lufthansa Cargo and the country. The airline has been servicing Indian air cargo since 1959.
When asked about the nature of demand that the airline is tapping from Mumbai, Bhat emphasised Lufthansa Cargo's focus to handle special cargo. "For our freighter service to Mumbai, we look for machinery, auto & pharma and wherever we can add value."
The aircraft has been already flying to various airports in India, even though it is the first time that it came to Mumbai. The naming ceremony was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lufthansa Cargo's Boeing 777 freighters currently fly to India eight times a week. This includes four Mumbai flights and two flights to Bangalore and Chennai from Frankfurt.
Talking about the increased capacity to Mumbai, he said, "Lufthansa Cargo has not only increased the capacity to Mumbai but also to other airports in the country including twice to Bangalore and Chennai. But the most important thing is the increased cargo capacity to India on passenger aircraft bellies. Compared to a month ago, we have increased from ten passenger flights to 32, (since India reopened its airspace for commercial operations.)"
Meanwhile, Manoj Singh noted the redeployment of pre-Covid-19 capacity as a positive sign for the airport. "CSMIA Mumbai International Airport is committed to providing the best service and infrastructure to Lufthansa Cargo's cargo operations in our airport," he said.
Emphasising the importance of pharmaceuticals for Mumbai and Lufthansa Cargo, Singh expressed his joy about how the European airline has evolved to handle such complex commodities from Mumbai.
Lufthansa Cargo is expected to get three more 777 freighters in the coming years. The carrier has also placed an order for seven Boeing 777-8 freighters that will join the fleet after 2027.