There is tremendous potential for domestic air cargo growth but “somehow the jigsaw puzzle” was never pieced together, Union Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said as he rued that currently cargo is only a minuscule part of Indian aviation sector. Currently, Blue Dart and QuikJet are the only two domestic players operating cargo carriers.
Naresh Goyal-owned Jet Airways had announced its plans to set up a cargo airline in 2015 and had even got Government’s in-principle approval for leasing of a freighter from its strategic investment partner Etihad. However, the airline later shelved the plans, citing market conditions.The Civil Aviation Minister said there is a need to motivate entities for air cargo operations.
“In India, God has blessed with all types of climates, name the climate, name the produce the potential is tremendous. We are in the infancy (with regard to air cargo),” Raju told PTI in an interview. Even as the domestic passenger growth has been over 20 per cent for many months, cargo segment is lagging behind.
The national civil aviation policy has also given thrust to boosting air cargo business, especially against the backdrop of rising e-commerce activities and exports. Among others, the government has set up the Air Cargo Logistics Promotion Board (ACLPB) to chart out ways to reduce costs, improve efficiency and ensure inter-ministerial coordination.
According to the Minister, the world’s largest airline is FedEx, which is completely cargo, and even Indian aviation started with cargo.
“Somehow the jigsaw puzzle never got put together. At least there is an attempt to put it together. Let’s see where it will take us,” Raju said.
When asked about the priorities for air cargo, Raju said targets are being set and the country is poised for good growth.
“We are not know alls. It is a continuous process of learning and working… Cargo if it takes off, I will be very happy. Right now, it is very minuscule,” he noted.
With regard to having more number of dedicated cargo terminals, Raju said there is scope of expansion and such terminals have come up where business has developed.
Late last year, state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) set up an air cargo and logistics subsidiary — which would cover the entire gamut of air cargo handling and related value added services including ground handling activities.
About the AAI subsidiary, Raju said it would help in having focus on air cargo. “When you have a wider approach, chances are that something will not be in your sight. Let’s see how they perform,” he added.