Tiruchirapalli

Steady movement of overseas cargo from Tiruchi airport despite lockdown

TIRUCHI

The Tiruchi International Airport has been witnessing export of vegetables and fruits to select foreign countries by non-scheduled overseas flights despite the lockdown.

Activities at the international cargo terminal, which came to a standstill since late March when the lockdown was clamped, resumed in early May when the first shipment of overseas cargo was lifted from this non-metro international airport.

Since then, there has been steady movement of overseas freight now and then lifted by different overseas carriers to Singapore, Dubai and Kuwait.

Airport sources said in the last one month alone about 185 tonnes of cargo was exported from the airport which has also seen movement of evacuation flights to bring back Indians stranded abroad and rescue flights to take back stranded Malaysian nationals from Tamil Nadu.

Maximum quantity of overseas freight consisting of vegetables, fruits and curry leaves was lifted to Singapore during the past month. A little over 160 tonnes of freight was lifted by Spice Jet and IndiGo airlines to Singapore on different dates over the last one month. The first shipment was sent from here on May 8.

The sources say Singapore even otherwise used to be a major overseas market for vegetables exported from the Tiruchi airport during the pre-lockdown period when the consignments used to be sent in available belly space on board passenger flights.

The lockdown period also saw for the first time a dedicated cargo freighter having been operated by the SpiceJet from Tiruchi to Singapore to lift vegetables and fruits. Besides Singapore, about 3.2 tonnes of overseas cargo was lifted to Dubai by the Air India Express and 18.92 tonnes to Kuwait by Kuwait Airways.

Both flights were operated to bring back Indians from the two West Asian destinations in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. The sources said besides vegetables and fruits, there were also a couple of overseas shipments of cheese from here.

Spice Jet alone had operated 10 flights from Tiruchi to lift export cargo during the lockdown period followed by Kuwait Airways which operated three non-scheduled flights, the sources said.

The steady movement of international freight especially during COVID-19 period is certainly a positive development for Tiruchi airport, a senior Airports Authority of India official said, adding that Tiruchi fared better in respect of export of cargo than other non-metro airports in the southern region.

All the non-scheduled flights were operated upon obtaining specific approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the official said.

During the pre-lockdown period, Tiruchi airport used to handle about 750 tonnes of export cargo on an average every month. The airport had exceeded the internal target set in respect of export cargo movement during the 2019-20 financial year.

The target set was about 7,500 tonnes with the airport surpassing it by clocking a little over 8,100 tonnes during the 2019-20 fiscal, the official said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 9:49:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/steady-movement-of-overseas-cargo-from-tiruchi-airport-despite-lockdown/article31779593.ece

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