Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh will inaugurates the complex today

When the Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh inaugurates the air cargo complex of Mangalore International Airport on Monday it will be an important milestone in the growth trajectory of more than six decades old airport,and of Mangalore.

The air cargo complex has been a long-felt need, frequently expressed by exporters and importers in Mangalore region.

M.R. Vasudeva, former director of the airport, said that so far the nearest air cargo facility for Mangalore was at Kozhikode in the South, Goa in the North and Bangalore in the East.

Though the cargo complex at the airport here will be inaugurated on Monday the cargo handling will begin from next month. Deployment of Customs staff at the complex – spread over a floor area of 14,000 sq. ft. – and others arrangements for booking and delivery agents at the airport will take a few more days, said J.T. Radhakrishna, director of the airport.

He said the cargo would be handled between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) would be the custodian of the cargo, he said. Mr. Radhakrishna said that 100 tonnes of cargo could be handled at the complex at a time.

Too goods

G.G. Mohandas Prabhu, former president of Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), during whose tenure as KCCI chief, the demand for the cargo complex gained momentum, said that there was huge scope for the export of ornamental fish from Mangalore. In addition, flowers particularly jasmine, fruits and vegetables, precision parts for watch manufacturers could be exported. Mr. Prabhu said that as Mangalore had many hospitals and medical colleges they required imported medical equipment.

Mr. Vasudeva said that when consultations for setting up the air cargo complex had begun when he was the director, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) authorities in Mangalore had said that initially at least 20 tonnes of marine products could be exported from Mangalore daily. They had said that once the exports stabilised, the demand could go up to at least 30 tonnes a day.

The former director said that he (Mr. Vasudeva) felt that initially at least two tonnes of marine products could be exported from Mangalore daily. At present, marine exporters use Bangalore International Airport to tranship the goods.

Mr. Vasudeva said that there was scope for exporting jackfruit and its products like chips and ‘happala’ from the region. The cargo complex in Mangalore would help exporters and importers in Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Kasaragod and Udupi districts, he said.

“An international airport is not complete without cargo operations,” Mr. Vasudeva said.

It may be mentioned here that in an exporters’ convention of Federation of Indian Export Organisations in Mangalore last year, exporters had stressed the need for an air cargo complex at Mangalore airport with cold storage facilities for agro products.

Though there is no cold storage at the airport as of now, the “process is on” to have the facility soon, Mr. Radhakrishna said. Mr. Vasudeva, however, said that existing cold storage chain elsewhere in the city could be tapped till the airport got its own facility to export marine products.

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