Exporters keep off national carrier due to prohibitive cargo tariff
TRICHY: Cargo export from Trichy airport is in shambles even though Air India Express recently announced it would lift cargo from Trichy on its international flights, particularly to Dubai and Singapore. Meanwhile, exporters are keeping off the national carrier as they find the cargo charges prohibitive.
It was on November 26 that Air India announced its cargo services from Trichy. However, not a single kilo has been booked on its flights until Saturday. Air India Express charges Rs 60 per kilo on Trichy-Singapore sector, the same price it offers on the Mangalore-Singapore route. A source at the Customs told TOI that the same price tag between Singapore and Mangalore, which is on the western coast, has put the exporters off.
Compared to foreign airlines operating from here, Air India Express's cargo tariff is not competitive. AirAsia charges Rs 40 a kilo, while Tiger takes Rs 48. Another reason why exporters prefer AirAsia to other carriers is that it offers three flights to Kuala Lumpur a day. Even Singapore-bound cargo is sent on AirAsia flights to the Malaysian capital.
An Air India spokesman in Trichy admitted that shippers and agents had appealed to the airline to bring down the tariff, and the appeal has been sent to the higher authorities. "I am sure the rates would be rationalized, now that the shippers are wary of sending their cargoes through our airline," he said.
Of the total cargo handled at Trichy, 93% are exports, 4% are human bodies and the rest are negligible imports. Exporters had been asking Air India Express for a long time to lift cargo from Trichy, and demand became strident after Mihin Lanka was grounded from June 1 this year. All consignment bound for Middle Eastern countries went on Sri Lankan and Mihin Lanka. As they were transported through their hub in Colombo, delays were natural. Traders of perishable commodities find the Lankan flights inconvenient.
Exporters bemoan that the authorities were not doing enough to improve cargo movement, though Trichy airport is doing well after the cargo section was redone in November 2011. Among the three tier-II airports - Trichy, Goa, Amritsar - that exported more than 1,000 tonnes in a financial year, Trichy topped the list with exports of 2,929 tonnes. This is an increase of 40% over the previous year's (2011-12) figure of 2,022 tonnes
. That exports from Trichy were given a raw deal was best exemplified by the fact that exports came to a standstill on November 22 for want of a Plant Quarantine Officer. After three days of uncertainty, an officer was notified so that exports could be resumed.
Though the Union ministry of finance notified the airport for international courier and cargo movement, the Customs department has not yet accorded the custodianship to the airport authority for want of adequate space. The airport authority offered only a 140-sq m area for courier cargo that was considered inadequate, said a Customs' source.
The absence of Electronic Data Interchange facility too has put the exporters in a dilemma. Hence, exporters book their Kuala Lumpur and Singapore-bound cargo at Chennai customs.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city ... 665647.cms