10 Jan : India’s increasing international trade combined with the strong domestic economy, is continuing to drive demand for air cargo and logistics. All major international cargo operators are reporting strong growth in the Indian market. New dedicated cargo airlines are being launched.
Massive investment plans in the organised retail sector as well as in high value manufacturing, require the support of sophisticated logistic facilities, leading to the growth of air cargo. India’s economic development will require the support of dedicated cargo cities with multi-modal interchanges, state-of-the-art cargo terminals, cold storage facilities and electronic data interchange systems. The Government has given permission for the development of a major international multi-modal cargo hub in Nagpur.
The air cargo market in India has grown at a high rate in the last decade and expected to maintain a high growth rate till 2025 before stabilizing. An Air Cargo Policy is being put in place which will project a vision for the air cargo growth by the year 2020.
A number of steps have been taken during past years to augment Cargo Infrastructure System:-
• New ‘Perishable Cargo policy’ introduced in April, 2006 which offers various concessions for setting up of the State-of-the-Art Centre for Perishable Cargo.
• In order to meet the BCAS guidelines for 100% screening of Export Cargo, prior to loading on to the aircraft, modern colour X-Ray Machines have been installed at Metro & Non-Metro airports by Airports Authority of India (AAI).
• X-ray machine usage charges have been reduced from Rs. 1.50 to Re.0.75 per Kgs to boost perishable export.
• Airports Authority of India accord top priority for security and safety of Import/Export cargo stored in the cargo terminal. Round the clock security arrangement has been provided besides monitoring the movement of people within the cargo complex through Closed Circuit TV surveillance System (CCTV).
• AAI has introduced automation in Air Cargo handling by introducing Elevated Transfer Vehicle (ETV) for storage of ULD’s of Export Cargo.
• To handle express/courier consignments, a dedicated Courier Terminal has been established at Chennai Airport.
• AAI has already commenced Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) through Internet with its community partners viz. Customs, Airlines, Exporters, Importers, Agents, Banks etc. for exchange of message electronically. It also facilitates tracking/ movement of Export Cargo on line.
• AAI has implemented Bar code system in its Air Cargo handling to bring accuracy and faster movement of cargo at Chennai Airport.
• The air cargo terminal at Chennai and Kolkata are electronically inter-connected through web site (URL;https//airports-ecom.gov.in).
• To meet the air cargo growth, AAI have recently commissioned the Phase-1 of integrated Cargo Terminal which will provide, on an area of 18,000 sqm, Elevated Transfer Vehicle (ETV) & Automated Storage Retrieval System (ASRS) at Kolkata Airport.
• The phase-II of export cargo terminal at Chennai Airport, on an area of 7700 sqm. Established at a cost of Rs. 35 crores was put to use, to overcome the space constraints. Additional covered space of 5400 sqm.on city side and airside has been created at Chennai Airport for bringing the imported cargo and to protect it from vagaries of weather.
• Similarly, a State of the Art Centre for Perishable Cargo for processing of perishable exports at a cost of Rs. 6.99 crores is also commissioned at Kolkata airport.
• AAI has formulated a policy to develop Domestic Airports for International Cargo handling by leasing space/land to interested organizations.
• To reduce congestion at Airport and to increase the capacity, Ministry has issued directives to all airport operators to reduce the free period granted to exporters/importers/airlines in the clearance of their cargo.
The cargo handling system is being also modernized across the country:-
• Delhi (DIAL) & Mumbai (MIAL) Airports are given to private operators to modernize for future requirement through JVC.
• AAI has provided cargo-handling facilities for processing of international export and import cargo. Indore & Amritsar – 2007 (managed and operated by Private Company).
• AAI further proposes to invest Rs. 284 Crores towards modernizing the existing infrastructure in the country during the XIth five year project.
• It is also proposed to convert the existing cargo terminal (which is not in use) into domestic cargo/courier at Kolkata Airport.
• The integrated import cargo terminal on an area of 10462 sqm at a cost of Rs. 70 crores is at drawing stage at Chennai Airport.
• Movement of the export packages is proposed by Conveyor belt at Export Cargo Terminal.
• ETV for storage of export Unit Load Devices (ULDs) at all airports.
• Scissor lifts at Truck Dock (TD) area for bonded truck operations at all airports.
• The proposed air cargo terminal at Patna airport is planned in Joint Venture between AAI and the State Government.
• A Committee namely ‘Civil Aviation Core Group’ (CACG) has been formed by MoCA with the representatives from the various stakeholders who would inter-alia endeavor to remove the bottleneck in the growth of Air Cargo Industry.
Specifically, Air India in 2004 had made a Business Plan for Future Cargo requirements. This Plan was in three parts Short Term Plan (MAR 2005- SEP 2006), Medium Term Plan (2006-2008) and Long Term Plan (2008-13). Based on this study it was decided to convert the 2 passengers Airbus 310 aircraft to Freighter aircraft. In June 2007 Air India Cargo inducted 2-A310 Cargo Freighters, with 34 tons capacity, for operations on the India/Europe Route. At present AI have 3 A-310 freighters in its fleet, and one more will be joining the fleet in Dec 2008. Air India is also exploring the feasibility of operating these freighters into other markets overseas, should a commercially viable opportunity present itself in future.
With the increasing number of EPZs (Export Promotion Zones) proposed by the Government to be set up in India, Air India has decided to establish a Cargo Hub at Nagpur for a pan India presence, offering seamless connectivities to various International destinations.
Furthermore under the e-Commerce initiative of the Government of India, Air India has adopted a paperless transaction concept as a Cargo Customs Custodian at Mumbai Airport. It has its own CARGO CUSTODIAN Website for a Single window access and interface with the various components of the trade, viz. Freight Forwarders, Shippers, Airlines, Customs to interact thus making the process simplified and on par with International Standards.