Doing away with procedural hassles
The air cargo industry in India is poised to leap forward. The projections and initiatives suggest that the country has immense potential to position itself as one of the attractive hubs, in respect of manufacturing and distributions. However, the country has to take some drastic steps to make the entire air cargo supply chain, smooth and hassle-free. Regulations have to be simplified with a trade-friendly mindset. There should be a collective and collaborative responsibility for everyone to do away with the procedural hassles.
At the operational level, the industry stakeholders may adopt some pragmatic steps for mutual benefit. Industry experts say, there are a number of procedures which are the best and are implemented in some international airports. However, it is not easy to implement them on another international airport within India. Under these circumstances, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Custom Board should have an open session with the trade members and implement the same by way of notification. For instance, the generation of shipping bill by customs which is later handed over to carriers is not required and there should be a minimum number of physical sets of documents for customs. Moreover, very less handling agents are required at certain international airports in India.
It is also suggested that there should be Document and Supervision Services to manage all the documentation on behalf of airlines, including management of counters and back office support. For import cargo, delivery should be within four hours from the arrival of an aircraft. For export cargo, acceptance and loading should be within four hours from ETD for RFC AWBs.
Dwell time is the cumulative result of various factors and Customs clearance plays a crucial part in this regard. In India, Customs introduced the EDI in 1997. However, we are still dealing with manual interventions as our mindset is more on policing rather than on trust based acceptance. Industry stakeholders firmly believe that the country should create a proper interlinked EDI platform capable of handling cargo without any human involvement. Efforts should also be made to move to a complete and comprehensive mode of safe, secure data transfer that can be shared by the different players of the air logistic chain. In addition, a comprehensive skill development programme has to be initiated jointly by the industry and the government to adopt modern methods of cargo handling procedures.