AAI leaps ahead in air cargo

In his zeal to fulfill his dream of creating the best airport infrastructure in India, R K Srivastava, the new chairman of Airports Authority of India (AAI), has been working towards bringing a perceivable change in the ‘skyline’ of Indian civil aviation. With the support of Ministry of Civil Aviation, AAI has taken initiatives to boost air cargo operations which hog headlines from time to time.

In order to cater to the growth of air cargo industry, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken up extension of the existing cargo terminals with the state-of-the-art technology apart from introducing automation at its airports. R K Srivastava, who took over the seat merely three months back, believes that there has been tremendous growth of air cargo at metro/non-metro airports with considerable scope for improvement in the basic infrastructure to tap the potential. This provides an opportunity for India to be a major cargo transshipment centre.
Owning and maintaining 125 airports comprising 68 operational airports and 26 civil enclaves, the authority has been making profits since its inception and posted net profits of Rs 735 crore and Rs 796 crore during 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively. With more and more high-density traffic airports going into the hands of private players, AAI is now looking at focusing on the cargo segment to boost its revenues.
As part of this, AAI plans to optimally utilise its old and un-utilised domestic passenger terminals by converting them into cargo facilities after carrying out the necessary modifications. “AAI is venturing into the new area of domestic cargo operations with an objective to create the basic infrastructure at its airports which have potential for air cargo growth,” Srivastava said.
There has been tremendous growth of air cargo at metro/non-metro airports with considerable scope for improvement in the basic infrastructure to tap the potential, he said, adding that “domestic cargo grew by 10 per cent and international by five per cent last year”. The chairman believes that the potential growth in air cargo movement across the country can be tapped if basic cargo facilities are created at second tier cities which can also work on hub and spoke model
AAI has identified 24 domestic airports across five regions, including three civil enclaves, to develop integrated facilities.
Such facilities have already commenced at three airports – Jaipur, Lucknow and Coimbatore. It would be started within a couple of years at the remaining 21 airports. There are plans to replicate the same model at other airports as well besides the 24 which have been identified going forward. At present, AAI manages international air cargo terminals at the Chennai, Kolkata, Coimbatore, Amritsar, Guwahati, Lucknow, Trichy and Mangalore airports.
Srivastava also held a meeting with the cargo/express industry stakeholders. “There are many issues relating to different sectors. We have identified them and discussed them in our efforts to resolve these issues. Our role is to provide infrastructure and facilitate business,” he said. The chairman finds opportunities in growth of e-commerce, infrastructure, development of smart cities and ‘Make in India’ project. “Projections indicate that Indian carriers will double their fleet size by 2020. This will result in significant growth of cargo traffic. AAI is gearing up to meet this demand,” Srivastava concluded.