An additional area of 26,000 square metres with an automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS) will be added to the Air Cargo Complex at Meenambakkam.

Explaining the new facility, E.P. Hareendranathan, Airport Director, Chennai, said it would be earmarked for import cargo handling and storage. Installation of ASRS would functionally replace the existing manual system of storage, retrieval and delivery of cargo with a mechanised system.

The ASRS would facilitate the optimum utilisation of vertical storage space and also enhance the speed and efficiency of cargo processing and handling.

The new facility would also help in avoiding any damage to the cargo owing to multiple handling. Appropriate inventory of cargo, tracking of its location and replacing manual loading by a sophisticated system were also possible. Installation of ASRS would be completed by the year-end. The AAI would complete the related civil works by October. Once the new system is ready, the cargo complex would have 58,000 square metres area. With the increase in space, the handling of cargo would also increase to 6 lakh tonnes from the existing 2.5 lakh tonnes, Mr. Hareendranathan said.

Temperature-controlled cold storage chambers with ball-mated flooring, separate and secured storage facility for dangerous and hazardous goods, multiple modern strong rooms for handling and storage of valuable cargo were some of the other facilities available in the expanded complex.

The AAI would spend Rs.150 crore for expansion of the cargo complex, he said.

At present, a total of 30 cargo airlines are operated from the Chennai airport with 14 exclusive cargo freighters. Electronics, electrical, engineering goods, spare parts, textiles and garments machinery, leather and leather products, pharmaceuticals, perishable cargo and unaccompanied baggage were the major commodities handled in import.

Textiles and garments, leather products, electronic, electrical, engineering goods, spare parts and perishable cargo were the major commodities handled on the export side, Mr. Hareendranathan added.