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Trade bodies raise concern over cargo restrictions for foreign carriers in Kerala

V.Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on October 23, 2020 Published on October 23, 2020

With the foreign cargo flight services restricted to just six airports in the country, vegetable and fruit exports from the State have been hit.

‘Move to curb seamless movement of cargo to only six major cities defeat the very purpose of the air cargo policy’

The trade and industry has voiced concern over the Centre’s decision to implement cargo restrictions for foreign carriers, saying that the move has resulted in a serious drop in the air cargo exports from Kerala.

With the foreign cargo flight services restricted to just six airports in the country, vegetable and fruit exports from the State have been hit. The exports have now been reduced to just one-fourth of the average quantities earlier.

The pandemic outbreak and the subsequent lockdown and its aftermath have severely affected air cargo movement via Kochi. At present, Cochin International Airport Limited is doing only 15-20 per cent of normal air cargo operations. Before the lockdown, the figure was around 200 tonnes on a daily basis, said the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“This is a discriminatory move which has impacted producers and exporters in Kerala negatively. We request the Central government to reconsider its decision and maintain the status quo ante,” V Venugopal, the chamber president, said.

The move to restrict seamless movement of cargo to only six major cities defeat the very purpose of the National Air Cargo Policy laid down by the Civil Aviation Ministry in 2019, he said.

Currently, the perishable items are being exported in the space allotted for cargo in passenger flights. However, only 15 tonnes can be thus ferried in passenger planes, whereas up to 50-tonne cargo can be exported via freighter flights.

No connection flights

As the Indian airline companies do not have connection flights to several parts of the world, large quantities cannot be exported. However, as foreign airlines have connection flights to all countries, commodities can be exported to most parts of the world. If the cargo is exported via the sea route, it would take seven days to reach Dubai, the Chamber noted.

“We request that this policy, which drastically affects the agricultural and export sector in Kerala, be withdrawn at the earliest. The Ministry could also consider inclusion of at least one airport from every State as an alternate proposal,” Venugopal said.

The Calicut Chamber of Commerce and Industry has already come out against the move as it added up to the cost of exporters by shifting cargoes to nearby airports of Chennai or Bengaluru for shipments.

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Published on October 23, 2020
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