Celebi believes in ‘Make in India’

Celebi has been in India for the past five years. Making a bold presence at Delhi airport with its effective ground handling services and cargo handling operations, the Turkish company is planning huge investments in the country and thus, contributing considerably to the air cargo industry. Ramesh Mamidala, CEO, Celebi Delhi Cargo Terminal Management India, in an interview with Jasleen Kaur, talks about Celebi’s India expansion plans, investments, pharma business, competition and much more.

To begin with, how has 2015 been for Celebi in the Indian air cargo industry? What were the targets and did you face any challenges in achieving them? And what are the further plans?
We have talked about this in many forums in the recent past. We have done reasonably well as compared to the budget. We have targeted 7-8 percent of the budget and so far we have achieved 6-7 per cent, which is in line with the budget. It is better than what other countries have experienced; most of the countries have experienced negative growth. Apparently, things might change in the next six months. But we have same reasonable growth.

In terms of clients, we are looking at expanding domestic terminal where we see huge growth. Some airline operators are also interested in expanding domestic capacity. We have a very small terminal, spanning over 2,500 sq m, which is used by Jet Airways, AirAsia, etc. The capacity has gone up in the last one year. For instance, Jet Airways has increased capacity by 10 per cent in the last couple of months. Now they are planning to increase international capacity with Etihad.

While they are operating from the existing terminal, we are planning to construct another domestic terminal. We are in talks with DIAL (Delhi International Airport Limited) for extra land. So that will happen during the next year. This is one opportunity of growth for Celebi, second opportunity lies in the fully automation and consolidation of storage systems which is expected to happen in the next 1.5-2 years. This requires investment and we are evaluating all the options we have. There is a support internally from our investors and from DIAL’s investors. When this will happen, we will have space of close to 10,000 sq m of warehouse. We are talking to domestic operators and e-commerce companies and will use this opportunity to retain our customers. Celebi has plans to expand beyond Delhi. We have expanded in Ahmedabad, Goa and now we are looking at more cities in the country. So we are quite active to expand our cargo operations in India. We are seeing very interesting opportunities coming our way in the next 1-2 years.

What is the exact amount of cargo operations on the domestic front and internationally too?
Currently in terms of market share, internationally we have 80 per cent of the market share and domestic is 20 per cent. We would definitely like to protect the share of international operations. The domestic market is growing, which is enough for us for the moment. And as the market grows, we look forward to increase market share. I don’t have numbers right now but we will increase share of domestic market 10 per cent more.

Is it the right time to invest considering the current scenario of the air cargo market?
Domestic market is increasing; we would not invest in international. We really believe in ‘Make in India’ story and rupee depreciation is definitely helping us and that is expected to stay for the next two years. And exports will be on the rise. We are looking at companies such as Samsung, HP and other domestic manufacturers. So any increase in exports from the country will definitely help airlines and air cargo sector. In addition, e-commerce is booming, so we see opportunities. I think domestic investment is very wise at this stage.

Are you targeting tier 2 and tier 3 cities as part of your expansion plans?
Yes, in fact we are limited to what we will get in the market because we don’t have direct access to those airports. We are very keen to handle tier 1 and tier 2 airports. In case we get contracts for handling, we are happy to invest. There are some active discussions going on in tier 1 and 2. We can’t disclose at the moment but we are very keen to get into these airports.

Moving to competitive scenario, how do you see the role of Celebi in the growing environment of infrastructure and technology and coming up of new segments like pharma, perishables, etc.?
Celebi globally is known for international quality equipment, most of our equipments are imported. We do spend a lot of money on buying international quality equipment. Most of the forklifts are imported. We have invested money in automation. Although another investment we are looking at is completely changing our systems that are expected to happen in the next one and a half years. However, we have a system which is running well but we believe to take the operations to the next level.

For pharma, I would say that we have a world-class facility. We are first to have cool dollies in the country and are looking at investing more in cool dollies. We are also looking at investing in an automated system for temperature logging across all the milestones we are responsible for on the export side. That will be again first-of-its-kind in the country. In addition, we have committed to have GDP (good distribution practice) certification in place in the next one and a half years. That will again be first-of-its-kind. So this requires lot of commitment, investment, and training of the people. So we have taken the initiative and this keeps us ahead of the competition.

And finally, how do you see Celebi business in India 2-3 years down the line? What is your outlook?
The outlook is very positive. Celebi has identified India as a large market. We would definitely like to expand our footprints here. This is one of the strategic markets where we would like to invest money in the next five years with Delhi as a showcase. And definitely what we have done here, would like to take it forward, may be to 4-5 airports in the next 3-4 years.