Cargo that flies high with Air Freight Stations
Despite the significant contribution of Air Freight (AFS) to the speedy and timely movement of the export and import goods in India, it has been noticed that the concept is yet to pick up pace. Industry experts elucidate on the importance of AFSs in the I
Keku Bomi Gazder Chief Executive Officer, AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company (AAICLAS) Inspite of an AFS Policy framed by MoCA in 2015, the concept of AFS, by and large remains a non-starter, attributed to the following: s 4HE AIR CARGO SECTOR FAILED TO UNDERSTAND THE benefits of an AFS even having witnessed a progressive air cargo volume. s ,ACK OF CLARITY IN THE RATIONALISATION OF REVENUE aspects between CTO and AFS operator. s )NSERTION OF CARGO HANDLING OPERATION AND THE REVENUE EARNED OUT OF IT AS A part of airport business in the OMDA between AAI and JVC airports. s !&3 OPERATOR FEELS THAT RUNNING THE FACILITY IS UNVIABLE DUE TO LACK OF ENFORCING procedures in place for off-airport clearance facilities, absence of legal framework to ensure creation and utilisation of AFS, instead of mere notification of the facility, lack of enthusiasm on the part of carriers even after full support to the concept from the state-run airport operator. With the advent of AAICLAS, we wish to carry forward the vision and guidelines contained in the AFS policy of MoCA by creation of AFS at our own near AAI managed airports in the country. AAICLAS is planning to run the facility in the coming years either independently or by exploring the possibilities to become a member of a group on revenue and expertise sharing basis. Once the facility is established, AAICLAS would be in a better position to bridge the gaps between the seamless coordination among all its stakeholders such as airlines, consol agent, customs brokers, etc., which is a must for the success of the AFS. Rajesh Neelakanta CEO and Executive Director BVC Logistics AFS was supposed to be an extension of the airport or an off-terminal facility. This is where all import formalities should be completed without hassles for cargo transport. Congestion and inefficiency in handling cargo results in many airports losing the business and logistics partners become vary of the facility. The AFS concept was aimed to tackle such problems by dedicating a special facility for the purpose. The AFS helped reduce congestion at the airports, by permitting transfer of cargo to designated freight stations — AFS or ICDs — through bonded trucking operations. This should help improve efficiency and reduce dwell time. The greatest advantage of an AFS is to the importers when it comes to penalty charges. Normally, it takes two days to complete the handling formalities at the airports, which means that only one day or even less is available for an importer/logistic partner to clear the cargo without penalty. At an AFS, these formalities need to be done within eight hours upon the unloading. The cargo is cleared in less than no time and the penalty charges could be avoided. AFS is the solution to the equipment, manpower and management deficiencies at air cargo terminals. While there are many advantages to the AFS system, lack of enthusiasm from carriers and airports is evidently visible. The key reasons for failing of the AFS system would be a slack in procedures for off-airport clearance facilities, no legalisation for creation and operation of AFS and an overall lack of participation by the authorities.
T.A. Varghese President, Air Cargo Agents Association of India The primary objective of an AFS is to decongest the saturated air cargo complexes at the gateway airports and provide an alternative for the expeditious processing and transportation of export and import cargo. Such facilities create an enabling environment for the promotion of international air cargo because of their proximity to airports as well as the manufacturing hubs. The numerous policy reforms and initiatives which have been implemented by the incumbent Union Government have given a major thrust and fillip to the Indian export industry. In such a positive environment, international trade is expected to grow manifold in the coming years. Many industrial and manufacturing clusters and hubs are expected to come up in the hinterland areas. AFSs can provide a vital link between such hubs and the airports. While Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and Container Freight Stations (CFSs) cater to the requirements of sea freight, AFSs can play a similar role for the air freight industry by linking the airports to the manufacturing hubs and providing door-to-door service for the exporters and importers. To make the operation of AFSs successful, the current systems, procedures and formalities should be streamlined suitably to eliminate the existing bottlenecks and delays. Issues which hamper the development and smooth functioning of AFSs are: 1) 24x7 unrestricted and uninterrupted movement of vehicles between the AFSs and the hub airports on a priority basis is essential. 2) The security regulations often hamper the speedy processing of cargo at AFSs. It is essential that the entire screening process of the export cargo should be done at the AFSs and the built up ULDs from the AFSs should not be dismantled at the airport for further security screening. 3) Currently, the Airport Terminal Operators (ATOs) and custodians levy the normal TSP charges for shipments which are forwarded from the AFSs. Since the processing of the goods and the ULD build-up activities take place at the AFS, the ATOs and custodians should only levy a nominal charge instead of the normal TSP charges for such shipments. Sushant Nigam International Air Cargo Consultant AFS provides a value-additive and processing platform to make export shipments ready for upliftment and delivery of imported consignments for home consumption. It should ideally be located within the easy reach of the manufacturing/ex-im units and gateways to undertake activities like receiving export shipments, consolidating for economical freight rates, carrying out airline’s ‘Ready for Carriage’ checks, unitising, X-ray scanning, customs clearance, etc. to reduce airport ground time. Imported consignments can be shifted, without de-stuffing, to the AFS soonest upon landing for customs clearance for home consumption. Such procedural activities are otherwise undertaken at the airport. Reasons for adversely affecting this concept in India are many like inability of PGAs to post their staff, aviation security not relying on AFS operators requiring unitised shipments to be offloaded for X-ray scan at the airport and re-unitised, which defeats the purpose of unitisation in AFS. Same thing is also done by customs, if unitised shipments, un-cleared by customs, reach the airport. Air Cargo Terminal Operators are reluctant to let their services be undertaken at AFS which causes them revenue loss. Contrary to their belief, AFS can save expenses on airport manpower and infrastructure. The AFS loads also run the risk of missing the flight due to city traffic restrictions/jams.