Cargo exports from Tiruchi airport on the rise
Perishables constitute a major portion of the export consignments; imports negligible
Cargo exports from the Tiruchi Airport have started picking up gradually over the past six months, since the opening of the international cargo complex at the airport.
Over the past six months, over 980 tonnes of cargo has been exported through the airport. Perishables, mostly vegetables, fruits and flowers, constitute a major portion of the export consignments. The exports were mainly to Singapore, Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur, Doha and even Male via Colombo.
The cargo complex at the airport was established at the old terminal building of the airport in November and started functioning from December 2011. With a holding capacity of 250 metric tonnes, the new cargo complex was expected to give a boost to the export and import of cargo at the airport following its expansion.
Perishables were being exported from the airport over the past several years even before the opening of the cargo complex. In 2008-09, about 904 tonnes were exported from the airport and the figure increased to 1,347 tonnes in 2009-10, 1,775 tonnes in 2010-11 and 2,022 tonnes in 2011-12.
During the current financial year, the airport has already exported about 500 tonnes and the monthly average exports have crossed 200 tonnes in the first two months this fiscal year. In December last year, the airport exported 93 tonnes of cargo and the quantum increased to 97 tonnes in January, 109 tonnes in February, 176 tonnes in March, 227 tonnes in April and 281 tonnes in May.
While conceding that the steady growth in exports was encouraging, airport officials, however, say that there was much scope for increasing exports and imports further.
For instance, the cargo complex is yet to attract textile export consignments from Karur.
There is also more scope for increasing export of perishables. Currently, onions, drumsticks, lemon and a few locally grown vegetables are exported. Imports have also been negligible. Airport sources say there was scope for import of industrial and engineering accessories for the fabrication industry, including the power sector major BHEL and other general cargo.
In an attempt to attract more exports and imports, the Airports Authority of India has been holding Cargo Facilitation Committee meetings once every two months inviting all stakeholders.
“Though there has been a gradual increase in exports since the opening of the cargo complex, there is scope for increasing both imports and exports through the airport. We are planning to hold a meeting with textile exporters and industry representatives in Karur to explain to them the facilities available here and to attract export cargo from the industrial town,” S.Dharmaraj, Airport Director, Tiruchi told The Hindu .
The AAI had carried out major modifications at the old terminal building to create the necessary infrastructure for the cargo complex, including offloading platform, examination area, Customs office area, sterile area, storage area, public waiting area, and unitisation/ covered airside for the Export Wing. De-stuffing area/covered airside and final delivery area are the additional features in the Import Wing.
Other special facilities comprise embedded electronic weighing scale; strong room for valuable cargo for export and import; hazardous cargo shed for export and import cargo; cold storage for perishable cargo; and forklift for heavy cargo.
It is sad that there is no support received from Karur Belt where lot of industries are located. AAI will iniitate steps to capture this market