|Vol. 22 No. 26||
Wednesday August 9, 2023
The Indian government has crafted a host of strategies to bring about widespread changes in the country’s cargo sector. Two dedicated railway trade corridors have been commissioned while trucking speeds have been enhanced and port turnaround times whittled down. These moves should bring down India’s high logistics costs from 14% down to the global benchmark of 8%.
As for air cargo, Rajiv Bansal, Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (the highest-ranking bureaucrat in the ministry), pointed out: “India at this point of time cannot afford to have widebody 777 freighter aircraft.” Speaking recently, he reasoned that widebody freighters are “a costly business.”
Well good for him.
Also, he emphasized that India did not have the volumes to use widebody freighters to move cargo from one destination to another.
“In India, only narrow body freighters can be used effectively. India needs to have great financial muscle to pull this off the ground,” Bansal said. “A lot of developments are happening in terms of developing dedicated freight corridors, trucking speed has gone up from Delhi to Mumbai, Delhi to Lucknow, Delhi to Kolkata; therefore, turnaround time has reduced.”
These moves, hopefully, will start yielding results. However, as of today, India’s air cargo traffic volume did not grow in Financial Year 2022-23: it remained at 3.14 million tons, much below 3.5 million tonnes recorded in FY19: of this, 1.84 million tons was international cargo (both exports and imports) and 1.30 million tons was domestic.
In fact, foreign air operators captured a major share of the air cargo – both exports and imports, around 95 percent of the market while Indian carriers attained only 5 percent. Most of this 5 percent is ferried by Air India and Vistara on widebody planes. Incidentally, India presently has only 14 dedicated freighters with all of them being narrowbody planes that cannot fly to long-haul destinations in the U.S. or Europe.
Secretary Bansal also made it a point to highlight the fact that a lot more proactive industry involvement and robust dialogue was needed to usher in further growth in the air cargo sector. In line with Bansal’s advice for a proactive approach, Air India, the country’s national carrier gets high praise once again, having taken initiatives that will put it back in the ranks of major cargo carriers in the world and boost the development of an air cargo supply chain that will speed up exports. In fact, Air India is planning big: its order of 10 Boeing 777Xs, 34 A350-1000s, 20 787 Dreamliners, six A350-900s – all widebodies – will, significantly, raise the carrier’s annual cargo capacity to 2 million tons or a whopping 300% over the next five years. All these planes will provide belly capacity for non-stop connections to key export markets around the world. Most of these planes will start joining the fleet in 2025.
Campbell Wilson, Air India CEO and MD, remarked recently that Air India saw “a huge potential in the air cargo industry, which the Indian Government plans to grow to 10 million tons by 2030”. He mentioned that Air India’s cargo division was in the process of implementing a series of strategic measures that would foster growth and strengthen our market presence.”
Even as Air India readies itself for its air cargo business, Indian air cargo stakeholders have been demanding policy support from the government not only to enable new air cargo players to start operations but provide muscle to existing players to expand.
That policy and support in reality, according to air cargo stakeholders, will help achieve the 2030 air cargo target of 10 million tons.
Stay tuned . . .
Chang'e 5 the fifth lunar exploration mission in the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program of CNSA, just became China's first lunar sample-return mission.
Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese moon goddess, Chang'e.
From Hong Kong, “the dark days of Covid are rapidly fading into the background," reports Bob Rogers, majordomo of ULD CARE and part of the force that makes that place great.
“Its actually just 6 months since our borders fully reopened, behind so many of our peers and attracting a great deal of commentary from the nay sayers ready to count HK and indeed all of China out for the count," Bob declared.
“To them I say . . . never bet against Hong Kong, that just has never worked, period!
“The past 6 months have demonstrated how, when the going gets tough, Hong Kong gets going!
“At the airport the signs are particularly encouraging, it seems Mr. Walsh’s predictions last September that HK’s days as an aviation hub were over were a little premature.
“Walsh actually came off his dire earlier prediction, describing the situation in Hong Kong as “looking bright”.
“And indeed things are looking particularly bright on the passenger side with a steady ramping up of both HK-based carriers and overseas carriers.
“Cargo is a little less rosy," Bob said, "but after the last couple of bumper years this is not surprising.
“And, while Hong Kong, like so many airports is suffering a problem with labor supply, the government has stepped in and revised the decades-long policy of not allowing the use of mainland labor in the SAR and an initial 6000+ workers from Zhuhai, connected by the HK-Macau-Zhuhai bridge across the Pearl river will shortly commence a daily commute from Zhuhai to work at the HK Airport.”
For those wishing to venture into the bright lights of downtown HK, the traditional HK welcome awaits them, the stunning harbor scenery, the shops and of course an over-abundance of places to eat and drink to your hearts content . . .
“Hong Kong," Bob Roger explains, “is back big time.”
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Vol. 22 No. 23
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22 No. 24
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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend
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