OTHERS

Work on to increase storage space at Air Cargo Complex

COIMBATORE, FEB. 26. The interim Air Cargo Complex (ACC) of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) at Coimbatore Airport will soon have a cold storage facility, giving a fillip to the movement of perishable commodities like vegetables and flowers.

"A five-tonne cooler, belonging to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), has been brought here by the AAI to provide cold storage facility. The cooler will be installed soon and start functioning in a week's time," the Airport Director, C. Vijayakumar, said.

"The AAI is embarking on a project to expand the ACC by adding another 45 metres of covered storage space at an outlay of Rs. 27 lakhs.

The expansion will bring new infrastructure facilities like a truck-dock area and an off-loading ramp. The expansion of storage area to 300 square metres, will double the handling capacity to 40 tonnes. With the work having already started, the AAI is confident of completing it in three months," he said.

The growth in direct export shipment along with successful operation of Customs-cleared bonded trucking to some of the nearest gateway ports had helped in manifold growth of the cargo handled by the ACC since its inception in December 2001, he said.

As against the 1,075 tonnes of cargo handled in 2002-03, the ACC had already registered 1,470 tonnes of throughput in 2003-04 (up to January) registering 36 per cent growth. "The ACC is also confident of handling another 300 tonnes before March this year," Mr. Vijayakumar said.

Of the 1,470 tonnes of cargo, direct lifting by the airlines operating through Coimbatore had been around 915 tonnes and the rest was carried out through bonded trucking cleared by the ACC Customs, he said.

He said the AAI was pinning hopes on increasing cargo handling when more airliners of higher capacity started operating from this airport once the runway expansion (which had just begun) was completed in a year's time.

"From the average handling of 120 to 150 tonnes of cargo a month, the ACC has achieved the high of 210 tonnes this month and it is expected to cross 230 or 240 tonnes in the next few days.

"The growth rate in handling of cargo through bonded trucking is phenomenal and some of the international airliners from Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are contributing significantly towards it," he said.