Airports India - - NEWS - B. K. Mehrotra Chief Op­er­at­ing OF­FI­CER-AAICLAS

Air cargo first took flight on May 28, 1910, when Glenn Cur­tiss flew a sack of mail from Al­bany to New York City for the Post Of­fice De­part­ment, cov­er­ing the 150 miles in two and a half hours. In fact, it all started on Novem­ber 10, 1910, when the Wright Com­pany flew 65 miles from Day­ton to Colum­bus, Ohio, with five bolts of silk cloth strapped into the pas­sen­ger seat of the plane for a de­part­ment store that wanted to sell strips of the cloth as me­men­tos of “the first air ship­ment.”

All branches of trans­port – road, rail, ship­ping – be­gan with pas­sen­ger trans­port and later lent pri­or­ity to cargo. H.J. Fis­cher for­merly as­so­ci­ated with the Frank­furt Air­port pre­dicts that “the air-freight traf­fic will one day move ahead of pas­sen­ger traf­fic.” Air cargo has made tremen­dous strides in the re­cent years. Four ma­jor de­vel­op­ments of the re­cent years can take credit for the im­pe­tus:

Cargo fa­cil­i­ta­tion is gen­er­ally dif­fer­ent from pas­sen­ger fa­cil­i­ta­tion. Cargo needs to be looked af­ter, whether it is an­i­mate or inan­i­mate. It re­quires load­ing, un­load­ing, pack­ing, un­pack­ing, la­belling, weigh­ing, move­ment, stack­ing, stor­age, spe­cial han­dling, pal­leti­sa­tion and de­pal­leti­sa­tion. More­over, there are many for­mal­i­ties in the clear­ance of cargo (from the point of view of im­port/ex­port reg­u­la­tions) than of pas­sen­gers. Cargo ship­ments face many hur­dles and have to be ac­com­pa­nied by a num­ber of doc­u­ments which in­clude ship­ping bills, bill of en­try, air­way bills, ex­port/im­port per­mits, in­voices, cer­tifi­cate of ori­gin and bank doc­u­ments. We may, there­fore, clas­sify cargo fa­cil­i­ta­tion un­der two heads – base fa­cil­i­ta­tion, which in­volves the phys­i­cal han­dling of cargo, and trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion, which in­cludes pro­ce­dures and doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Base fa­cil­i­ta­tion is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the air­line in case they han­dle their own cargo or of the air­ports if the lat­ter cre­ates cen­tralised cargo han­dling fa­cil­i­ties. Trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of cus­toms and reg­u­la­tory gov­ern­ment agen­cies. The ease with which we han­dle cargo de­pends on a num­ber of fac­tors, one of which is the space avail­able in the Cargo Ter­mi­nal for ma­noeu­ver­ing and stor­age. Ter­mi­nal fa­cil­i­ties at in­ter­na­tional air­ports must also keep pace with the an­tic­i­pated growth of cargo traf­fic and our cus­toms pro­ce­dures need to be sim­pli­fied and fas­tened.


In a nut­shell, those who are the most pro­fes­sional and will­ing to con­tin­u­ally adapt to new tech­niques and sys­tems are go­ing to be the ones who re­ceive the big­gest share of the growth. For those who are con­tent to con­duct ‘busi­ness as usual’, growth will ob­vi­ously be elu­sive. Mar­ket for Air Freight: The ship­ping of com­modi­ties by air is the most de­sir­able for dis­tri­bu­tion when one or more of the

sub­ject to quick ob­so­les­cence, or are re­quired on short no­tice, the speed of air trans­porta­tion be­comes ad­van­ta­geous. Tim­ing is im­por­tant for prod­ucts such as record­ings, fash­ion ap­parel and nov­elty items. Air freight can elim­i­nate the cost of car­ry­ing in­ven­tory. Cus­tomers can se­lect freely from the en­tire line of prod­ucts and they can be as­sured of de­liv­ery from a cen­tral ware­house as quickly as from a lo­cal ware­house. Air freight is a premium ser­vice. It projects an im­age of a premium prod­uct and the com­pany’s pro­gres­sive­ness. The var­i­ous modes of trans­port rep­re­sent great dif­fer­ences in qual­ity. Air freight can add a new com­pet­i­tive edge to the mar­ket­ing ef­fort. Su­pe­rior ser­vice adds value to any prod­uct and gen­er­ates a qual­ity im­age for the ship­per. Air freight can stim­u­late growth in ex­ist­ing mar­kets and it also al­lows firms to en­ter new mar­kets with­out mak­ing a com­mit­ment to large, fixed in­vest­ments in ware­hous­ing and in­ven­to­ries. Test mar­kets sup­plied overnight by air al­low ad­just­ments to mar­ket re­sponse as read­ily as to the de­mands of a lo­cal mar­ket.

de­te­ri­o­ra­tion is min­imised through the use of air trans­porta­tion be­cause of the lack of end route han­dling and the ex­po­sure of goods to long pe­ri­ods un­der min­i­mum se­cu­rity. In­surance charges tend to be sub­stan­tially lower for air freight than for the sur­face freight be­cause there is less risk by air and the tran­sit time is shorter. In­surance rep­re­sents a con­sid­er­able ex­pen­di­ture for many com­pa­nies.

a min­i­mal cost. Be­cause air trans­port re­duces the risk of jolts and shocks, card­board car­tons usu­ally suf­fice, whereas heavy wooden crates may be re­quired for sur­face trans­porta­tion. Ground han­dling is done on a more in­di­vid­ual ba­sis than is the case for most other modes of trans­porta­tion. The risk of ex­po­sure to el­e­ments is slight and for com­modi­ties for which con­tainer­i­sa­tion is used, there may be no need for pack­ag­ing at all. in­ven­tory are high; it in­cludes the cost of cap­i­tal tied up in ware­house fa­cil­i­ties, in stock, in­surance and taxes. In ad­di­tion, stocked items may be­come ob­so­lete and the cost of labour and mul­ti­ple han­dlings is a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion. With each han­dling, loss and dam­age is an im­por­tant fac­tor. Air freight can of­ten bring about dras­tic re­duc­tions in the cost of car­ry­ing in­ven­tory. Busi­nesses that use re­gional ware­hous­ing sup­plied by sur­face trans­porta­tion can re­duce safety stocks and per­haps elim­i­nate some ware­houses. Even when air freight costs are more than sur­face freight, the trade­off in re­duced costs has made it prof­itable for many busi­nesses to sub­sti­tute overnight dis­tri­bu­tion by air from a cen­tral ware­house.


Two pri­mary fac­tors in­flu­ence freight growth: eco­nomic con­di­tions and rate lev­els. The out­look for both is pos­i­tive for cargo. Moder­ate eco­nomic growth is ex­pected to con­tinue into the fu­ture, with only a mi­nor slow­down in the short-term. Cargo rates should also re­main low as sev­eral fac­tors serve to keep a lid on the prices.

A large num­ber of new air­craft have been in­tro­duced in re­cent years. This new ca­pac­ity will help re­strain prices. Labour costs for the world air­lines should con­tinue to move down­ward due to bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of the labour force and con­tin­ued in­dus­try con­sol­i­da­tion. The glob­al­i­sa­tion of the world econ­omy – the pro­duc­tion of parts and the as­sem­bly of prod­ucts half a world away from where they will be placed in ser­vice – will also pro­vide a ma­jor stim­u­lus to air freight. Rather than re­ly­ing on ocean trans­porta­tion, which can take as long as two or three weeks, ship­pers can trans­port the goods by air within a cou­ple of days. For prod­ucts with a short shelf life – like mag­a­zines or fash­ion goods or fresh fish – air freight is the only real choice for ship­pers.

As the de­mand for air cargo in­creases, there will be a need for spe­cialised air­craft. Cur­rently, there is a lack of cargo-spe­cific air­craft through­out the global fleet. Most aero­planes utilised to trans­port air cargo are con­verted into pas­sen­ger air­craft. In most cases, those air­craft are old, costly to op­er­ate and at the end of their life­span. As these air­craft re­tire, air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers are re­al­is­ing the need to pro­duce air­craft that are geared to­wards air cargo trans­port.

With AAI Cargo Lo­gis­tics and Al­lied Ser­vices (AAICLAS), AAI has set-up a ro­bust mech­a­nism that en­sures care­ful pri­or­ity han­dling of cargo op­er­a­tions. As the ex­change of goods across in­ter­na­tional bor­ders in­creases, AAI is pre­pared to fur­ther up­grade its fa­cil­i­ties in tan­dem with global de­mands.

Air cargo ter­mi­nal, Chen­nai Air­port Air cargo ter­mi­nal, Kolkata Air­port

Au­to­mated stor­age retrieval sys­tems (ASRS), Chen­nai Air­port

Per­ish­able cargo stored in cool room fa­cil­ity Han­dling of Odd Di­men­sional Project Cargo

Deft au­to­mo­bile cargo han­dling Care­ful han­dling of live an­i­mals Del­i­cate han­dling of day old chicks

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