Facility was established with financial assistance from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority

A cold storage for vegetables and perishable goods was commissioned at the cargo terminal of the Tiruchirapalli International Airport on Friday.

The five-tonne cold storage chamber was established with financial assistance from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) to provide storage facility for perishables exported from the airport.

With perishables such as vegetables, fruits, and flowers constituting nearly 90 per cent of the volume of exports from the airport, the establishment of the cold storage is expected to fulfil the requirements of exporters.

The chamber would help store consignments held up because of flight delays, cancellation, and offloading or cargo booked in advance.

It is equipped with a digital temperature controller to maintain the temperature between two and eight degree Celsius. However, it cannot be used for storing meat which requires a much lower temperature, airport officials said.

About 2,920 tonnes of cargo were exported through the air cargo terminal at the airport in 2012-13 and 40 per cent growth in volumes is expected this financial year.

In July this year, the terminal handled 438 tonnes of cargo, the highest ever monthly average.

Airport Director S. Dharmaraj, who declared open the cold chamber in the presence of Dinesh Kumar Jangid, Assistant Commissioner, Customs, said the facility would cater to exporters from 14 districts in the central parts of the State.

Exporters could store their perishable consignments at the cold chamber free of cost.

Mr. Dharmaraj said the airport would soon get the third aerobridge to be installed at a cost of Rs. 3 crore.

The airport, which was expected to register a passenger growth rate of 15 per cent this financial year, will get an additional departure conveyor system by October.

A proposal on expanding the terminal building by 80 metres on departure side and 100 metres on the arrival side, to double the passenger handling capacity of the airport, is under the consideration of the AAI.