Firm plans to scale up its warehousing facilities in tier-II and tier-III cities this year

In February, DB Schenker (DBS), the transport and logistics division of the €44.43-billion Deutsche Bahn Group, started a direct flight connecting Chennai with Munich and Chicago (wheels up-wheels down in less than 23 hours) — the first ever direct charter flight connecting Chennai, Germany and the US. Charter operations on the Chennai route is one-of-a-kind service in the logistics industry, says Vishal Sharma, CEO – Cluster India and Indian Sub-Continent, DB Schenker.

The weekly flight operations initiative is the second offering by DBS in India, as part of the Global Flight Operations Programme, Sharma told BusinessLine in an interview. Excerpts:

What is the difference between a charter service and a regular freight service?

Charter service is about leasing a dedicated capacity on a particular route for longer term– example a one-year weekly service– while a regular freight service pertains to the commercial capacity.

A major reason why a customer opts for a charter service is because of the dedicated timeline for last -mile delivery and a specific route as it reduces the travel time of the cargo.

How was the demand for charter service in 2020?

Air charter volumes saw an uptick during the lockdown due to reduced passenger capacity and cancellations of cargo freighters.

DBS operated over 70 charter flights from India to various regions in over five months during the lockdown period to help the healthcare and pharma sectors, further keeping the supply chain resilient during the tough times.

Due to the reduction of passenger capacity to zero and scheduled cancellations of many cargo freighters, we initiated Global Flight operations and deployed weekly charters to support customers who are into manufacturing of personal protective and health-care equipment.

How will air charter help companies?

The charter services allow companies not to restrict themselves to the available capacity that they get in regular freight; instead, they create capacity to suit the requirements of the industry. For example, pharma, electronics, automotive and textile are among the fastest growing industries and such creative alternatives like charters will encourage the growth of the sectors, providing customers with seamless capacity and advantage of meeting the last-mile delivery on time.

How important is India as a market for you globally?

DBS has been operating in India for the past 25 years with 35 office locations now and 51 warehouses covering over 3.1 million square feet of space. Globally, India is a priority market for DBS and as part of its commitment, the company is focussing on developing local logistics capabilities to simplify supply chain processes for customers across verticals like automotive, pharma, retail and consumer, industrial, electronics and aerospace. DBS in India has a customer-base of over 1,800 across these sectors.

What’s your expansion plan?

Increasing footprint and expanding service networks across different markets are the key focus areas for DBS in India for 2021. To provide simplified logistics solutions to customers, we plan to scale up our warehousing facilities in tier-II and tier-III cities this year. Further, expansion of Global Flight operations will be vital for us. After introducing weekly charters connecting India to Frankfurt and Atlanta as well as connecting Chennai to Munich and Chicago, we plan to strengthen operations with the launch of the third direct services connecting Delhi in 2021.

Source: Thehindubusinessline