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   Vol. 18 No. 28
Wednesday April 17, 2019

Move To Popularize India Air Cargo

The Air Cargo Forum India (ACFI) has taken on the task to make air cargo popular – both as a profession and a service.
      A tall order, no doubt – especially when passenger growth continues at a scorching pace prompting aviation stakeholders to look forward to the day in 2024 when if predictions hold, India will become the world’s third largest aviation sector.
      ACFI could turn out to be the right vehicle for the task since it is the only association nationwide representing the entire air cargo logistic/supply chain in India responsible for the transportation of 30 per cent of the total national trade & commerce.

First The Challenges

      The Indian cargo sector has been facing key challenges that have been hindering its growth.
      These challenges include the well known lack of infrastructure and visionary policies.       Coupled with that are long drawn-out processes and hesitation to use of technology and resources.
      To start with we take the constraints and procedural delays that have been hurting the Indian air cargo sector.
      This has resulted in low volumes.
      The combined air cargo traffic handled in FY 2017-18, for instance, put together at all the Indian airports (approx. 3.4 million MT) was still less than that handled by each of the top three cargo handling airports in the world in 2016-17.

I Want To Be Wanted

      In such circumstances, the only way to boost volumes was to make air cargo “wanted”. Forum President Tushar Jani – he is Chairman, Cargo Service Center (handling Cargo Terminals at Delhi and Mumbai among other places) and founder Blue Dart – gave an inkling of why the forum was keen to make air cargo popular.

Crying For Recognition

      Fact is that air cargo has always lagged behind passenger services.
      Jani mentioned that air cargo had been crying for its rightful place for quite a long time.
      “We are going to cry more and more,” he said during a recent meet, directing his words at the Civil Aviation Secretary, the top bureaucrat in the Civil Aviation ministry.
      One of the major reasons for popularizing air cargo, Jani pointed out, was that there were only a few who wanted to join the air cargo industry.

Air Cargo Gets No Respect

      As head of the Cargo Service Center, Jani said he faced an attrition rate of nearly 22 per cent every month.
      Most of those who quit working did not consider working in cargo “respectable”. The only way out is to change the mindsets of potential workers.
      If the people – especially those around airports – were taught to think differently and accept air cargo as easily as they do for the passenger side of the business, it would go a long way to enthusing youngsters to join the air cargo sector.
      To achieve popularity, the world has to know that air cargo is a great business with plenty of opportunities.
      If all goes according to plan, that would be the message that will be displayed around Delhi airport – to begin with – on TVs.
      The finer details would be worked out once the air cargo stakeholders agree along with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Infrastructure Challenge

      Behind all this, there was a need to bring about a serious approach toward improvement and creation of infrastructure for air cargo.
      Along with infrastructure, the single window approach that has been created needed more support from participating agencies to eliminate delays.
      That is, as Jani said, “because cargo does not scream or shout”.

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