India’s air cargo supply chains continue to improve but there’s still work to be done

While air cargo operations in India have continued to improve and develop there is still work to be done to improve the overall flow of the supply chain.
During a panel debate at the Air Cargo India event held in Mumbai, speakers outlined whether they felt air cargo services had improved over the last few years and if there was more work to be done.
They said there was much that had improved, but these developments needed to be supported across the entire supply chain.
Atlas Air Worldwide executive vice president and chief commercial officer Michael Steen said: “We have to recognise that the total supply chain connecting India with the world is not ready yet.
“There are small components that are ready but there is also a lot of work to be done to develop that supply chain to support the country domestically and support the country internationally.
“The potential is fantastic, it’s huge, you can’t compare it with anywhere else in the world and that’s what makes it exciting for international companies like ourselves to invest and help the local economy to continue to grow and prosper.”
Delhi Airport head of cargo business Sanjiv Edward said he felt that infrastructure at larger airports had improved and was ready for future growth, in part thanks to public private partnership investments.
He pointed out that at Delhi had invested in a capacity of 1.5m tonnes while it was only handling 800,000 tonnes and that it had added an extra three freighter parking slots even though the existing six were not fully utilised.
However, he said that second and third tier airports also needed to improve their infrastructure as cargo needed to be fed into the major airports from facilities across the country in order to develop the critical mass needed for air cargo to really take off.
This point was echoed by Air India executive director of cargo D Murali who said that second and third tier airports did not have facilities such as x-ray machines and cargo warehouses.
He added that road infrastructure also needed to be improved.
Mumbai International Airport head of cargo Manor Singh also said that public private partnerships had helped improve airport infrastructure.
He felt there was a lack of direct freighter connections to other countries. He said that foreign airlines tended to offer services via a hub in their own country and therefore Indian airlines needed to take up the challenge and offer direct service where they could, to regions such as Africa.
He added that dwell times at airports also continued to be poor, although the government has promised to improve the situation and is pushing for a 24/7 Customs operation.
However, Chapman Freeborn chief executive officer Russi Batliwala said that the air cargo offering in India was as good as many other countries and that the industry needed to do a better job at marketing itself.
He said: “We always as the question of whether India is ready or not, or how much closer we have got to being ready.
“I think we have got there, we’ve got the carriers, the airport and the infrastructure, what we don’t have is people actively selling and people being aware of how flexible air cargo in India actually is.”

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