KERALA

AI moves baggage by trailer

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Jan. 3. Air India has gone in for "bonded'' trucking from the Mumbai airport to the international airport here to clear the backlog of unaccompanied baggage booked from the Gulf countries by those who had come here on leave for Ramadan and Christmas.

A trailer with 15 tonnes of unaccompanied baggage arrived in the Air Cargo Complex, owned and operated by the Kerala State Industrial Enterprises (KSIE), on the airport premises here around 2 p.m. today.

The transportation was in compliance with the Customs Act and other relevant rules, air cargo sources told `The Hindu'.

The unaccompanied baggage was transported from the bonded areas of Customs in Mumbai on December 30 under the travelling courier service facility.

Under the facility, the personnel travelling in the trailers carrying the unaccompanied baggage would have to report to all the nearest Customs points on the way from Mumbai.

The unaccompanied baggage that arrived today was mainly booked by passengers hailing from the southern districts of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta, Allapuzha and adjoining Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts of Tamil Nadu.

Sources said airlines went in for "bonded trucking'' only in extraordinary situations such as the Kuwait crisis when they cannot bring excess cargo by flights due to space constraints.

As per the revised flight schedule of Air India, which came into effect from today, the national carrier operates about half a dozen flights from Mumbai to Thiruvananthapuram airport using A 310 and 320 aircraft. The bonded trucking has come in a surprise as the backlog of the unaccompanied baggage can be cleared by transporting in the normal flights from Mumbai.

The trucks carrying the unaccompanied baggage of those in the northern districts of the State will arrive in the KSIE's Air Cargo Complex at the Kozhikode airport within the next few days, sources said.

At present, the bonded trucking is employed in the Mumbai-Bangalore section by AI to transport big consignments, as it cannot operate wide-bodied aircraft in the sector.

A top Air India official said the unaccompanied baggage arrived by road today at the cost of the airline and without charging any additional money from the passengers.

``The sudden withdrawal of Jumbo services in the Mumbai-Thiruvananthapuram-Dubai sector from December 26 has put considerable pressure on the national carrier. ,'' he said.

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