Charting the roadmap for suitable opportunities
At the recently-concluded ASSOCHAM Civil Aviation conference, eminent panellists enumerate the crucial issues of the air cargo industry and the solutions required to chart the way for growth.
We as an industry need to move forward. If we look at what the industry needs to focus on today there are three things: ease of doing business, infrastructure development and skilling India. If we take these three points, we can have quantum leap in spearheading the cargo business.
We as a cargo industry are the last mile deliveries of the ‘Make in India ‘promise. This project won’t work if we as an industry are not here. For ease of doing business, there is lot of talk in simplifying process and procedures, getting digitalised etc but what is lacking is a link between all of this. One of the things requires focus on is linking all these initiatives, be it digitalisation, integration of our systems, etc. Clear focus has to be initiated to look at this together as one industry.
Keku Bomi Gazder
UDAAN is an opportunity for us which will give connectivity to air cargo also. Now, coming to the concern part; customs department is requested to look at the matter of transshipment of cargo. The approval should be restricted to the Superintendent level (if manual permission required) to make a transshipment process faster. This will reduce the transit time for 1012 hours wherever any manual permission will be required. Now coming to the concerns related to Bureau of Civil Aviation Security; it is already printed that any shipment which has to be uplifted in an airline has to be screened by a regulated agent process. This process needs to be relooked. At present, there is no timeline. All the policies related to BCAS need to be considered again; the accountability has to be there and there has to be some timeline for all the process.
Moreover, if we are talking of setting up an AFS; one of the crucial part will be screening of cargo. Again, the regulated agent and BCAS has to come to the picture. The AFS policy doesn’t cover this part. Facility clearance is also one of the parts of BCAS. There should be strict timeline and a clear-cut checklist because the approvals should not be dependent on the individuals or as per official’s desires. That kind of transparency is required.
Dinkar Singh Head - Regulatory Affairs DHL Express India
Cargo plays an important role in the economy, it cannot be ignored. We are yet to see an airline which can go in profits and beat the expenses by ignoring cargo. Belly space occupies almost 50 per cent of the space in the aircraft. Ministry of Civil Aviation and Commerce have come forward to lend an ear to the cargo trade’s problems. The trade is suffering from some premium problems like upgradation of systems, custom related issues, implementation of single window systems and EDI, centralised registration of authorised dealer port and transfer cargo etc. We are yet to get a sturdy, robust and dependable systems. There are times when systems don’t work for four to five days and so much of losses happen. We are the intermediary between the exim and we have commitments for cargo to fly in a flight which is altogether not taken care of. Infrastructure is very Important but along with it, we need systems and processes in line. Accountability has to be there; if any loss of time happens and cargo is not able to be uplifted because of system failure, then somebody has to be accountable. And, most importantly, Air Freight Stations (AFS) is the need if the hour to match up the growth of cargo.
Sunil Arora Managing Director Delta Airfreight
Cargo has always been a step child of aviation. The amount of attention cargo gets is very less and what goes below the deck, cross-subsidises what goes above the deck. We can promote cargo with better infrastructure, better policies, scheme building, etc. Noting the fact that cargo will only end up getting more revenue to the airlines that helps to make the tickets cheaper. No doubt, Delhi and Mumbai are choked for the next five years, till the next airport comes in. 40-50 per cent of traffic comes to and from Delhi; there is a great opportunity for the next five years with the state capital and other sub-centres of economic growth. There are also many great opportunities in North-East island territories for taking goods there and bringing things back, connecting them to the rest of the country and the world. The ever-mounting e-commerce has shown us interesting industry trends in the past few months.
Amber Dubey Partner KPMG