International cargo movement likely to improve

September 28, 2016 12:00 am | Updated November 01, 2016 09:30 pm IST - TIRUCHI:

With the introduction of Air India Express flight to Sharjah

With the newly introduced Air India Express flight to Sharjah beginning to lift overseas freight to the West Asian destination from Tiruchi, international cargo movement is expected to improve further.

The international airline which launched the daily service in the Tiruchi – Sharjah – Tiruchi sector from September 14 began to lift overseas freight from last Friday onwards.

Although there is a controlled booking of shipment to Sharjah at the moment, sources feel that overall freight movement would perk up soon with the airline beginning to lift cargo.

A small beginning has been made with the airline lifting a little over one tonne since the launch of the service to Sharjah. Sources say flowers and vegetables were the main consignments being exported to Sharjah after freight rates were declared by the airline days after the new service was introduced. There are a lot of queries from shippers regarding export of cargo to Sharjah.

The Air India Express is operating two overseas flights – one to Singapore and another to Dubai from Tiruchi every day lifting about 60 tonnes overseas cargo a month.

The Tiruchi airport from where five international carriers operate daily services to Colombo, Singapore, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and at present Sharjah handles around 550 metric tonnes of cargo every month.

In the absence of dedicated freighter service, cargo is exported to various destinations through the existing passenger flights in its available belly space. Singapore is the major market for international cargo dispatched from Tiruchi with 75 per cent of it exported to that country.

Although Kuwait has no direct connectivity from Tiruchi, yet around 2.5 tonnes of vegetables is dispatched every day via Colombo. Consignments are regularly shipped to Maldives, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, said an official. Occasionally, shipments have gone to Reunion Island near France where Tamil population is dense as well as to Brunei. Food stuff and flowers were exported to countries such as Canada and France from here and pooja items to Kuala Lumpur.

Among the international carriers operating daily services from Tiruchi, Air Asia tops in respect of lifting cargo with the volume being around 150 to 200 tonnes a month followed by Sri Lankan Airlines, Tiger Airways, Malindo Air and Air India Express, say the sources.

Various users of cargo terminal strongly feel that commensurate with freight traffic growth at Tiruchi airport, infrastructure addition with respect to additional x-ray scanner and handling equipment like trolleys and space was the need of the hour apart from Electronic Data Interchange connectivity.

If these were to be put in place, it would not only ensure free cargo flow but also help in bolstering revenue to various stakeholders, said the sources.

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