Hubballi Domestic Airport is all set to house North Karnataka’s first dedicated domestic air cargo terminal. The terminal is expected to start functioning from February 2021.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) - Cargo Logistics & Allied Services Company Ltd, subsidiary of AAI, has given in-principle approval for conversion of the old passenger terminal into the cargo handling section.
Hubballi Airport Director Pramod Kumar Thakre informed DH that the upcoming cargo terminal (at an estimated cost of Rs 60.6 lakh) shall have secured storage space for both inbound and outbound cargo, a dedicated room for valuables and dangerous goods, along with provision for commercial space that can be utilised by airlines, major freight forwarders/logistics players like postal authorities and e-commerce players. The 700 square metre cargo terminal shall have annual cargo holding capacity 15,000 MT, he said.
He said the regulatory authorities have completed their preliminary inspection and the final inspection is expected by end of January. “We are hopeful of commissioning the facility before the end of this financial year - after complying all the statuary regulations in respect of aviation security,”(sic) he said.
Industries and progressive farmers of the region are hopeful that the commencement of cargo terminal will boost the economy of North Karnataka.
Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Mahendra Ladhad said that the commencement of the cargo terminal can be a game changer for the industries here as it would speed up transport of agro-based products (including food processing), chemicals, automotive parts among others. Currently, 35-40 export-oriented industries are making use of the cargo service provided by Indigo Airlines. However, if the dedicated cargo terminal starts operating, it would help several other industries to flourish in the next 15 to 20 months.
Horticulture farmer Shanmugappa Munavalli of Bagalkot said that earlier his grapes and raisin used to be sold in neighbouring districts and states. “With cargo facility, I can even plan to export it to other countries and improve my earnings,” he said.
Thakre said the current operating airlines: Indigo and Star Air, which are connected to major gateway ports like Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, have expressed their interest in operating through this terminal. Hubballi airport is also hopeful that airlines such as Air India and Alliance Air will start cargo service, as the demand increases.
Cold storage for Covid-19 vaccine
Hubballi Airport Director Pramod Kumar Thakre said that the proposal has been sent to officials concerned for release of funds for setting up of cold storage at the Hubballi Airport to store vaccines against Covid-19.
As per the recent orders from the Union government, all cargo terminals in the country should have a cold storage unit for storing of Covid-19 vaccine, which is expected any time soon. "As per the guidelines, we have sent a proposal for release of Rs 5 lakh for constriction of the cold storage at the airport. We are expecting its approval in a few days. A tender will be called to set up a cold storage with 3 to 4 tonnes of storage capacity and maintain a temperature of 2-4 degree Celsius. By March we are hopeful of the cold-storage,"(sic) he said.