New National Air Cargo Policy on the anvil

New National Air Cargo Policy on the anvil

With air freight traffic in India projected to grow over five times in the next two decades, the government is giving shape to a new national air cargo policy on the basis of a roadmap which is being prepared by the Airports Authority of India to meet the situation.

Disclosing this, Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi said a working group on air cargo, set up by the Civil Aviation Economic Advisory Council, was close to completing its report and a framework to address all the issues, taking into account the realities of the air cargo industry.

"That will form the basis of the national air cargo policy," he said recently.

While air cargo traffic in and out of India projected to grow over five times in 20 years, domestic traffic was projected to grow six times in this period. While Mumbai airport leads in air cargo operations, it is followed by Delhi and Chennai respectively.

Air cargo accounts for over 30 per cent of the merchandise trade in and out of the country, official estimates show.

"If growth potential of this segment is appropriately harnessed, Indian airports could become cargo hubs in the region," Zaidi said at the recent Air Cargo India 2012 conference in Mumbai.

He said the AAI would come out with a detailed roadmap for capacity planning and development to cater to the needs of the growing air cargo operations at airports under their control.

While AAI would be asked to provide install and maintain modern equipment in the cargo terminals, it would also work on providing aircargo space in those airports which are currently undergoing modernisation, the Civil Aviation Secretary said.

Greenfield airports would also be asked to plan for capacity enhancing, keeping in view cargo growth potential over the next 10-15 years.

"Seamless inter-modal connectivity shall be one of the main considerations in the approval process of greenfield airports," he said.

Another major area of reform where rationalisation was needed was in the processes and procedures which acted as a "stumbling block" for the growth of air cargo industry, Zaidi said, adding that procedures mandated by multiple agencies "stifle innovation and growth besides causing inefficiently in the system".

He said that standardisation in air cargo movement, as in marine cargo, has to be brought about quickly and procedures would have to be simplified to facilitate that process.

Pointing towards lack of training institutions for imparting knowledge and skill in air cargo operations, Zaidi said the ministry was planning to set up a National Aviation School to cater for comprehensive aviation education.