Air India Express takes off with new ‘Cargo-in-Cabin’ initiative

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on July 02, 2021

To carry agri produce to Gulf countries


Air India Express (AIE) has lent a helping hand to the country’s agriculture sector at a time when flight cancellations in the second Covid wave have affected exports.

The AIE has come to the aid of farmers and traders for moving perishable items to the Gulf countries by ramping up its cargo operations.

“To meet the demand, we rolled out a new initiative -- Cargo-in-Cabin --, with the help of our Boeing-737-800 fleet. Under this initiative, our flights started transporting agricultural products, mainly fruits and vegetables in its international departure flights across the country,” highly placed sources in AIE told BusinessLine.

Cargo is kept on overhead bin, passenger seats and in the legroom. So far, the airline has operated 23 such cargo-only flights, mostly in South Indian cities such as Chennai, Trichy, Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangaluru, to ship agri-produce such as fruits and vegetables, the most sought-after items among the NRIs. More such flights are being planned under the Cargo-in-Cabin initiative, the sources added.

Between April 1 and May 5, AIE flights carried 1,930 tonnes of cargo. Besides helping rural farmers, traders and NRIs, the service aims to reduce the stress on the supply chains caused by the pandemic situation, according to sources. On May 6, the company carried 98 tonnes of cargo, an all-time high for the airline. This included 20 tonnes of mangoes, the sources added.

“These are tough times. The challenges posed by this extraordinary situation require innovative responses from each one of us. When the pandemic-induced crisis started to disrupt shipments of perishables, causing loss to farmers and traders, we decided to ramp up our daily cargo operations”, sources said.

Kerala exports around 150 tonnes of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to the traditional markets of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain etc from the three airports of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode. However, the cancellation of flights due the second Covid wave has caused severe disruptions in the movement of cargo to these destinations.

Published on May 11, 2021

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