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   Vol. 23 No. 16
Wednesday April 10, 2024

India Open Skies Gains

Celebi and Delhi Cargo Service Center

     “The operation of foreign ad hoc and pure non-scheduled freighter charter service flights shall be allowed at all international airports in India without co-terminal rights by cargo-only aircraft for three years from the date of issue of the aeronautical information circular.” That was India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issuing a notice circulated at the end of February this year.
     The decision to allow all foreign freighters to land at any international airport in India came after continued protests from the export and logistics industry. This was not the case before February 2023. In 2020, amidst Covid, restrictions had been imposed on ad-hoc freighter operations by foreign carriers which allowed them to operate only from the six major airports – Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. At that time, the restriction was aimed to boost the operations of Indian air cargo carriers.
     The DGCA amended the rule for freighter operations after it reviewed its earlier direction which limited ad hoc and non scheduled cargo flights by foreign carriers. The DGCA also made it clear that while air cargo carriers would have to meet operational and safety requirements for ad hoc non-scheduled cargo flights, scheduled cargo operations by foreign carriers would be regulated as per the bilateral air service agreements with respective countries.
     Air cargo stakeholders said that the lifting of restrictions would go a long way to achieve the 10 million tonnes of air cargo target by 2030 set by the government. The move would also encourage the entry of more cargo airlines in India.
     The relaxation by the DGCA has been welcomed by air cargo stakeholders, especially the perishable trade. Now, for example, flowers from Coimbatore for the UAE need not be trucked first to Bengaluru or Chennai. The move will also help vegetable exporters from Varanasi and Amritsar to move their shipments to Europe or the US without disruptions.
     The potential for higher tonnages of cargo from India exist as was proven when Kenya Airways introduced a B737-800 freighter to fly twice a week from Nairobi to Mumbai.
     Take the case of Ethiopian Airlines. It had been receiving pharma shipments sent out in trucks from Ahmedabad to Mumbai for flights to destinations in Europe. The new rule will allow Ethiopian to start non-scheduled freighter flights to Ahmedabad, where growing business was always a challenge since there were no Ethiopian Airlines flights to the city.
Ramesh Mamidala     On the domestic front, while Air India and IndiGo have introduced more capacity, Ramesh Mamidala, Air India’s Head of Cargo was quoted saying that as a major facilitator for efficient logistics and exports, Air India was fully committed to the government’s target. Additionally, cargo carriers like Quikjet and Pradhan Air have been ramping up.
     The new Open Sky policy, according to freight forwarders, would relieve the congestion faced by the country’s six major international airports. In fact, apparel exporters from Delhi complained that apparel shipments from Bangladesh had clogged the airport. Apparently, 30-odd bonded trucks from Bangladesh – as per a country-to-country trade arrangement – were reaching Delhi airport every day with goods for exports. These were not only delaying shipments from Delhi but also raising air freight rates. The exporters pointed out that if the Bangladesh shipments were not stopped, sending apparel from Delhi would become uncompetitive.
     Additionally, apart from foreign carriers, the relaxation will also benefit companies operating at airports in non-metro cities. The move will benefit local industries and lower their logistics costs.
Tirthankar Ghosh

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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