Feasibility study under way for free trade zone at Kempegowda airport


Its creation is expected to make the city airport a cargo hub

Creation of a free trade area (FTA) or a special economic zone (SEZ) on the sprawling premises of Kempegowda International Airport is being considered to make the airport a cargo hub for the region. Currently, a feasibility study is being undertaken.

While the fresh focus on creating a hub is being taken up as cargo business at the airport has been on the rise in the last three years, this would be a second attempt by airport operator Bangalore International Airport Ltd. (BIAL). According to a PTI report in March this year, the Union government had cancelled the approval since not much progress had been achieved on this front.

“At this point we are exploring multiple options. We know that we have to start thinking of what next when the current cargo facility reaches its capacity (5.7 lakh tonne annually). Whether we want to expand by scaling up the current facility or setting up a multi-model logistic hub or a free trade zone is currently under consideration,” Raj Andrade, vice-president (Business Development, Marketing & Strategy) of BIAL told reporters here on Thursday.

About 100 acres has been earmarked in the master plan for setting up a FTA or SEZ and that would be in line with the airport expansion plan, involving construction of terminal-2 and a second runway, he added.

According to statistics provided by the airport, the cargo operations from May 2008, when the airport started commercial operations, has grown by 142%. This fiscal, cargo handling at the airport is set to reach 3.5 lakh tonnes, up from 3.2 lakh tonnes last fiscal. Cargo business is growing at over 8%, a release from BIAL said.

“We are expecting to reach the capacity over the next five years, and we need to consider ways of expanding cargo handling business,” another official said, adding that the feasibility report is expected in the next few months. FTA, according to the official, is being seriously explored since it can be achieved by trans-shipment of cargo.

“A large part of medical kit used by the UN across the globe is manufactured and supplied from India. Instead of supplying them separately, value addition to the kit could be made at a FTA in Bengaluru,” he said.

Soon, dedicated counter for couriers

With e-commerce growing, Kempegowda International Airport is also setting up a dedicated counter for couriers. According to BIAL officials, currently about 1,000 tonnes is being handled monthly, and the regional distribution hub, which is coming up on nine acres, is expected to handle about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes annually.

‘Cool trolley’ to be patented

A simple trolley, locally fabricated by Air India SATS personnel to keep perishable commodities cool, will be patented, a company official said. According to him the “cool trolley” fabricated with the help of a local vendor has polyurethane foam that helps keeping cargo commodities cool. “While the temperature in the traditional metal trollies can rise up to 10C, temperature in the cool trolley rises by only about 2C, thus keeping commodities away from the heat during transit from cargo area to aircraft,” he said. Even in airports in Mumbai and Delhi where temperatures are far higher compared to Bengaluru, normal metal trollies are used, he added. There are 17 such trollies operating in Kempegowda International Airport.

‘Apple transits through KIA’

Most products of electronic giant Apple that is imported to India transits through Kempegowda International Airport. “Because we have a high level of security where the product pilferage is almost zero, a large number of Apple products come to Bengaluru airport first before it is distributed to various parts of the country,” a BIAL official claimed.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 7:19:43 PM |

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