Kerala fruits and vegetable exporters — focussing mainly on the Gulf markets — have heaved a sigh of relief following the withdrawal of strike by Air India Express cabin crew, as these shippers depend more on AIE flights to send cargo to various gulf destinations.

Kerala ships around 100 tonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis from the four airports to Gulf markets.

Losses suffered

Exporters’ fraternity pointed out that the two-day strike had blocked shipments to all gulf sectors, forcing many exporters to sell their consignments in the retail market at much reduced prices, incurring losses. They are mainly catering to the markets of Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Sharjah, Dubai and Jeddah. “I have lost around ₹21 lakh in just two days after the strike began because of the non-delivery of the cargo both from Karipur airport and Cochin International Airport”, KB Rafeek, proprietor of the Kozhikode-based KB Exports told businessline.

The sudden cancellation of flights without giving any prior information to the parties affected the export sector, especially the perishable commodities such as fruits and vegetables. This is the season for mango and jackfruit in gulf nations, facilitating exporters to make arrangements to dispatch the cargo to meet the rising demand, he said.

C Manoj of BVM Fruits in Kondotty said the cancellation of AIE flights has forced exporters to depend on other airlines that had pushed up the cost by around 20 per cent, that too with limited space availability.

Munshid Ali, Secretary, Kerala Exporters Forum welcomed the decision to withdraw the strike which would be beneficial for the export community in the State. He pointed out that non-execution of export orders from the State might give undue advantage to competing countries such as Sri Lanka and Thailand to make further inroads in the gulf markets with their commodities. This might hit the business of Kerala products and lead to cancellation of future business orders, thereby losing significant revenue, he said.