MIAL aspires to transform Mumbai into preferred cargo hub in western region

As part of modernisation of air cargo terminal, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has brought significant developments in infrastructure, improvements in process and efficiency with an endeavour of benchmarking the facilities and services with the global standards. Manoj Singh, Senior Vice President & Head – Cargo, MIAL speaks to Rashmi Pradhan on latest developments at MIAL

How do you ensure smooth functioning of cargo at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA)? Please highlight the developments in pipeline at the cargo terminal?
The Mumbai Airport has witnessed a rapid development in cargo infrastructure in the past decade. Since its inception, MIAL has executed seven major projects committed towards raising the cargo throughput to double the original capacity. MIAL has also been successful in critical land acquisitions as required for the cargo master plan. Aligned with the Airport Master Plan, MIAL is successfully moving forward with the implementation of the cargo master plan in a phased manner, without compromising on service quality and e-freight strength. Under the same master plan, MIAL recently commissioned its state-of-the-art ‘Domestic Common User Terminal’ in June 2016, and the new ‘Export and Heavy Bonded Cargo Terminal’ in November 2016. Further developments in the master plan include a dedicated Export Pharmaceutical Terminal with enhanced capacity and a separate new terminal for export perishables, further augmenting the export throughput capacity.

Pharmaceuticals is one of the key commodities driving Indian air cargo EXIM trade. Setting standards, along with infrastructural upgrades in the air cargo pharmaceutical supply chain is vital to sustain this growing demand. Logistic players need to have the right equipment and processes in place in order to be compliant with global standards. MIAL, being a leading pharmaceutical gateway, is committed to offer specialist pharmaceutical services with seamless temperature-controlled handling. In keeping with this, MIAL commissioned a state-of-the art Export Perishable Terminal in 2011, which was further enhanced in 2015.

Tell us about the steps taken to reduce dwell time at CSIA?
Through the e-freight program, MIAL has successfully reduced the handling dwell time to a considerable extent. Through GMAX, MIAL aims to bring together all stakeholders to communicate for faster and more effective communication, thus reducing dwell time further. However, MIAL alone cannot control the overall dwell time recorded by EXIM consignments at the airport. With the help of government initiatives, such as 24×7 operations, clearance under the Risk Management System, single window clearance, digitisation of regulatory clearances and the AEO program, MIAL is able to facilitate ‘ease of doing business’ in cargo handling. These facilities need to be capitalised on in a proactive manner to bring down the EXIM dwell time at airports. With the new ‘Export Heavy and Bonded Cargo Terminal’, MIAL hopes to further reduce turnaround time in export cargo handling.

A robust communication platform is essential to facilitate ease of doing business and reduce handling dwell times in the supply chain. MIAL aspires to transform Mumbai into a preferred cargo hub in the western region. With this vision, MIAL was the first Indian airport to introduce Air Cargo Community System ‘GVK MIAL AIR EXCHANGE GMAX’ in 2013 to provide better operations and more transparency. Taking advantage of this web-based common IT platform, MIAL has successfully adapted e-freight at the Mumbai airport and has been rated e-freight compliant by IATA. Actively engaged in the government’s initiative of ‘ease of doing business’, MIAL is in the process of linking GMAX to all air cargo stakeholders and regulators to facilitate a strong and effective communication network.

Please elaborate on the measures taken towards making Mumbai Airport the first choice of air cargo carriers?
MIAL is well-connected with airlines in terms of IATA C2K messaging. The majority of customer airlines are being served with comprehensive handling, enabling them to minimise their operational costs. The facilities and services have made handling attractive at CSIA, creating opportunities for new EXIM businesses. MIAL is dedicated towards strengthening connectivity between CSIA and the hinterland to build cargo traffic. The unique concepts of ‘Key Accounts’ and ‘Pre-alerts’ have proved successful and helped improve handling efficiency significantly. These value-added services lead to an enhanced customer base, customer confidence and improvement in service levels. Airline Key Accounts continuously monitor the service levels agreed upon with the carriers and ensure consistent handling performance. When serving belly-hold aircrafts, the focus is also on freighter flights and charters. With freighters contributing to a significant proportion of air freight, Mumbai has always been a potential market for international carriers. The freighter bay close to the palletisation facility is the biggest advantage for cargo flights in terms of quick turnaround.

How much the rapid growth of e-commerce would have an impact on India’s air cargo growth?
E-commerce in India is thriving and shows promising signs of continuing to do so. Online purchase of goods has significantly increased over the years with the aggressive investments and marketing activities of e-commerce players, particularly during festive seasons. As the ‘Make in India’ initiative has begun to show positive results, it is the right time for e-commerce companies to support this tremendous initiative by exploring the global markets and selling Indian manufactured goods. Aiming to offer express handling of e-commerce goods, MIAL has commissioned India’s largest common user terminal for domestic operations, the ‘Santacruz Air Cargo Terminal’ in June 2016.