Cargo exports from the Tiruchi Airport have crossed the 300 tonne mark for a month for the first time, up from the monthly average of about 200 tonnes.

Cargo exports have touched 315 tonnes in January against the previous high of 285 tonnes recorded in May last year, airport sources told The Hindu on Thursday.

The rise in exports come in the wake of the increase in the uplift capacity from Tiruchi after Tiger Airways started lifting cargo from here to Singapore in September. Tiger Airways was the fourth major airline to lift cargo from the city after Sri Lankan Airlines, Air Asia and Mihin Lanka. Air India Express, the other major operator from the city, remains the only airline that does not lift cargo though it has international operations from here. The total available uplift capacity of the airlines for cargo from the city is around 300 to 350 tonnes a month.

Perishables, mainly vegetables and flowers, account for nearly 90 per cent of the cargo exports from here with cotton fabrics, personal effects and household goods constituting the remaining 10 per cent. The exports were mainly to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo and Dubai, while imports remain negligible.

Apart from the increase in uplift capacity, the rise in exports is also attributed to the processing facility at the airport cargo complex from morning till night on all days. About 15 new exporters have also started sending their consignments.

What has come as a pleasant surprise to the authorities here is that the increase in cargo exports in January has come ahead of the peak season still a few months away when mango, onion and drumstick arrivals rise.

During 2011-12, about 2,022 tonnes of cargo was exported from the city. During the current financial year, a 45 per cent growth is expected, the sources said.

Created with a capacity of 250 metric tonnes, the air cargo complex at the airport was expected to give a thrust to export and import of cargo. While cargo export has been recording a gradual increase, imports have been negligible. Although it was widely felt that there was much scope for general cargo exports from central and southern districts, the potential is yet to be realised. Industry sources feel that there was scope for import of industrial and engineering accessories for the fabrication industry, including the power sector major BHEL, and other general cargo.

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