India Post will have own aircraft to meet private challenge

Thursday, 16 August 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: State-run India Post is seeking to beat growing competition from private courier companies by acquiring its own aircraft that would carry mail by the end of this month.

"All these years, the postal department was considered to be a social service unit, but now we want to make it into a business unit. Our focus will be on the business clientele," said John Samuel, general manager, India Post.

The aircraft is being taken on wet lease from domestic carrier Indian.

"Having our own aircraft will help in having an image makeover and also to deliver consignment at the earliest possible and of course cut down the logistic cost," Samuel told IANS.

All details of the new operation have been worked out and it would be just be a matter of days before the first plane carrying mails and parcels will take off. The aircraft will bear the India Post logo, while the colour is still kept under wraps.

"It is a wet lease, where the freighter and the pilot will be from Indian airline. But only India Post cargo will be allowed. This is the first time Indian is operating a freighter. If all goes well we are most likely to begin our operations on Aug 29," he added.

The postal department will start its operations focussing on the northeast states with a single aircraft, but has plans to increase its fleet in the days to come.

"Since one aircraft will not be able to cater to all sectors, we have decided to start the operations between Kolkata and the northeastern states. Moreover, we have not been able to carry and deliver shipment to these states at the pace we would have wished to. So we will have our inaugural flight on this route," Samuel said.

As night landing is not allowed in these states, the flight will operate in the daytime. The department intends to operate on the Kolkata-Guwahati-Agartala-Imphal route. It also plans to acquire a few more aircraft in future for other routes.

The new service will not only help deliver mail faster but also bring down overall postal charges.

"So far our prices were high because we were using the services of other airlines. However, now that we will have our own aircraft the cost will come down and we will pass on the benefit to our customers. We will be able to drastically cut down on our transportation and logistic costs and save a lot of time," Samuel added.

While private couriers will find it difficult to match up the move, the postal department denies being under pressure from any competition.

"We are an organisation with an annual revenue of 7,000 crore ($1.72 billion) and are far ahead of others. While they follow the benchmarks we have set, we too will follow some of their best practices.

"One of the practices we will inculcate would be to track the consignment till its final destination using the bar code technology. We will also strive to deliver the parcels on the same day itself," he said.
Source: IANS
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