Air­freight helps lift up EXIM trade

San­jiv Ku­mar, Avi­a­tion Con­sul­tant, talks about the con­cept and suc­cess of Air Freight Sta­tions (AFS) in In­dia while enu­mer­at­ing the dy­nam­ics of im­port and ex­port pro­duc­tion.

Cargo Talk - - Guest Column - (The views ex­pressed are solely of the au­thor. The pub­li­ca­tion may or may not sub­scribe to the same.)

In­dia is a vast coun­try with pro­duc­tion of goods spread out over a huge area. With easy avail­abil­ity of land in ru­ral ar­eas, lower cost of labour and op­er­a­tions, it makes more sense to set up the man­u­fac­tur­ing units at re­mote lo­ca­tions. More­over, with the ‘Make In In­dia’ con­cept be­ing pro­moted by the Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia, there would be a ma­jor fil­lip to home pro­duc­tion and ex­port. To be able to achieve a higher pro­duc­tion and in turn lower costs, we have to look at big­ger mar­kets out­side In­dia and higher ex­ports. The value of the goods need not be in di­rect pro­por­tion to the vol­ume. Elec­tronic items like chips, mo­biles, sim cards can have a larger value but small vol­ume/weight while prod­ucts like gar­ments would be of high vol­ume/ weight and val­ues would not be pro­por­tional. Get­ting th­ese prod­ucts to the fi­nal con­sumer or ex­port be­come chal­leng­ing and there­fore less likely to man­u­fac­tured in re­mote ar­eas.

Man­ag­ing dis­tri­bu­tion

Also, in case if the prod­ucts have to be shipped by in­di­vid­ual man­u­fac­tur­ers to the gate­way points, it may not work out to be fi­nan­cially vi­able. While do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion can be han­dled/man­aged with the ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture of rail­ways and road net­work (which is grow­ing day by day). How­ever, on the ex­port front, there is lot to be done. It may not be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able for each in­dus­try to for­ward the prod­uct to main air­ports and ar­range for their clear­ances at the gate­way points. It may make more sense to con­sol­i­date the var­i­ous prod­ucts, for same des­ti­na­tion, at re­mote ar­eas, have lo­cal clear­ing ar­range­ments and then ship them in a sin­gle ULD to the gate­way points for on­ward ship­ping to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions.

The need of the hour is there­fore to have gate­way points in in­te­rior ar­eas for ex­port of goods. How­ever, as we are aware, set­ting up of air­ports and en­sur­ing di­rect flights would be an ex­pen­sive propo­si­tion and far-fetched at this stage as there may not be suf­fi­cient cargo or pas­sen­ger traf­fic to war­rant such a move.

Role of Air Freight Sta­tions

One of the steps be­ing taken in the de­vel­oped coun­tries is set­ting up of AFS. There has been suf­fi­cient men­tion of fol­low­ing the cus­toms reg­u­la­tions in force from time to time to be ap­pli­ca­ble on the AFS. They have been equated with the In­land Con­tainer De­pots (ICDs), cur­rently in vogue for ship­ping and sur­face trans­porta­tion. In fact it is stated at some point that the same ICD can be used as an AFS or par­ties could set up sep­a­rate AFS sub­ject to meet­ing the min­i­mum re­quire­ment stip­u­lated in the pol­icy.

While go­ing through the pol­icy, it ap­pears that the fo­cus is more on the space re­quire­ments, han­dling, stor­age and cus­toms re­quire­ment. While it does men­tion BCAS ap­proval for se­cu­rity ar­range­ments of AFS en­tity, it does not cover the se­cu­rity as­pect in much de­tail. While there is a men­tion in the pol­icy that the screen­ing of the cargo would be done at the AFS, it would be con­tainer­ised or pal­letised and sent to the air­port, where air­port op­er­a­tors would have to cre­ate an area on the air­side for stor­age etc., the guide­lines for se­cu­rity and move­ment would be is­sued by BCAS.

Need of the hour

Se­cu­rity of the goods and safety dur­ing trans­porta­tion from re­mote ar­eas to the hub air­ports is of para­mount im­por­tance and has a ma­jor role in suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tions of the AFS. Ad­vanced coun­tries like USA, Aus­tralia and Euro­pean Con­ti­nent have an elab­o­rate road net­work and AFSs set up to pro­vide the fa­cil­ity. The ba­sic re­quire­ment, in my un­der­stand­ing, a highly ster­ile area fwould be or ac­cep­tance/scan­ning and build up of cargo at the AFS with se­cu­rity equiv­a­lent to air­ports, if not more, and a se­cure method­ol­ogy for tam­per­proof trans­porta­tion of the goods to the air­ports and ac­cess to the trucks to ster­ile ar­eas for stor­age of the goods prior to its load­ing on flights. It would not make any sense if the en­tire cargo has to be bro­ken at the air­port ter­mi­nal, re­screened and ULDs built up again, which is the ex­ist­ing pro­ce­dure. Mul­ti­ple han­dling of the goods can lead to dam­age or even pil­fer­age of the goods. A de­tailed pro­ce­dure for se­cu­rity of the prod­ucts and over­all se­cu­rity has to be built up to en­sure suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion and op­er­a­tion of the AFS pol­icy in In­dia.

To en­sure sup­port to the in­dus­try for ex­port, it is nec­es­sary to es­tab­lish AFS at in­te­rior points that have the in­fra­struc­ture to han­dle the goods both from the fron­tier for­mal­i­ties per­spec­tive and also have a pro­ce­dure for se­cure ac­cep­tance and trans­port of the goods to gate­way points.

San­jiv Ku­mar Avi­a­tion Con­sul­tant

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.