Air cargo remains downbeat despite easing of lockdown restrictions; exports reach near pre-covid levels

By: |
August 7, 2020 5:30 PM

Air freight has been downbeat in the country despite the easing of restrictions by the government even while other means of cargo such as roads logistics have picked up.

In an earlier notice on June 26, the DGCA had suspended international flights, except cargo, till July 15. (Photo: The Indian Express)(Photo: The Indian Express)

Air freight has been downbeat in the country despite the easing of restrictions by the government even while other means of cargo such as roads logistics have picked up. “Ind-Ra opines a moderate recovery for sea and road transport post the easing of the lockdown restrictions, whereas air transport remains severely stressed,” a report by India Ratings and Research said on Friday. Further, India’s exports level has also reached pre-covid figures even while imports have been severely curtailed amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for boosting exports and cutting down on imports.

“Imports have remained sluggish, while a rebound in export to pre-COVID level led to India’s import-export mix changing to 58:38 (4% for transhipment) in June 2020 from the normal split of 65:30,” the report said. 

The coronavirus pandemic took a heavy toll on outbound and inbound shipments as economies sealed off their borders. For instance, port volumes, reported a nosedive by over 20% on year during April and May 2020, during which, the country was under a nationwide lockdown. However, volumes recovered to 80%-85% of the normal levels in June 2020. Road transport volumes may have recovered as well, as indicated by the e-way bill collection and diesel consumption numbers. Both diesel consumption and e-way bill collections have reached about 85% of the pre-coronavirus levels. 

Rail transport also gained market share over the five months ended June 2020 to around 25% from the pre-COVID levels of about 15%. The shortage of truck drivers and a significant reduction in railway haulage time as passenger trains were not running were the chief drivers behind the same. The same may start to slide down again as road cargo picks up again. 

On the other hand, air transport continues to remain under pressure with passenger traffic practically at nil levels and freight traffic at 60% of the normal levels in May 2020. An overall downbeat economy and lack of manpower has led to muted freight traffic at around 15% of the normal air freight volumes in May 2020.

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