IT’S been around six months since the international cargo facility at Pune Airport took off amid much fanfare. However, the response from the exporters as well as airlines has so far been lukewarm. Information obtained from airport officials shows that an average of 430 kg cargo is exported everyday from Pune Airport against the expected movement of 20,000 kg (20 tonne) per day. Of the four airlines which have international flights, only one — SpiceJet — is using the international cargo facility. The airport is yet to get the import facility. Support services such as cold storages are yet to be erected which, observers feel, may be behind the less than expected response.
International cargo facility, which was delayed due to several issues, was finally inaugurated on June 27 by Pune MP Anil Shirole. Airport officials had expected the cargo volume to touch 40,000 tonne per annum, starting at an average of 20,000 kg per day. The actual numbers of cargo movements, however, have been dismal.
“Currently, only SpiceJet is operating international cargo. At present, 430 kg per day cargo is being exported on an average. Apart from SpiceJet, Jet Airways has also obtained the customs bond for export of cargo and application by Air India is under process. The decision to enhance the capacity will only be taken up after reaching the expected turnover of 20,000 kg per day,” said a senior official of the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
The official said that the AAI is optimistic about the response the facility will get due to the potential in the city with a large industrial and agricultural presence. “It will pick up as more operators will join and we will get more direct flights,” said the official.
Pune presently has four international flights, including two to Dubai (Air India and SpiceJet), one to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways) and one to Frankfurt (Lufthansa). Dhairyashil Vandekar, aviation expert, feels that the lack of import facility as well as no thought given to accessory services such as cold storage may be behind exporters shying away from using the facility.
“The facility, with only export provision, was started in a hurry. The reason for international cargo facility not picking up appears to be the fact that there is no import facility for international cargo. Export and import of cargo from Pune and surrounding areas have been happening from Mumbai for a last few decades. This arrangement has now streamlined and set by using surface transport to carry cargo to Mumbai from Pune. It’s understood that more than 30 per cent of the cargo moving out of Mumbai Airport originates from Pune and the surrounding areas. The fact that exporters are not preferring the facility from Pune Airport indicates that the concerned authorities and agencies have not been able to to create the confidence to use the facility out of Pune,” said Vandekar.
He also pointed out the need of cold storage facilities to help the exporters of agrarian products such as vegetables and flowers, which form major chunks of the goods that are exported from Pune and the vicinity.