Cargo carriers likely to continue ground handling

September 16th, 2008 - 6:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) The government will likely allow cargo carriers to continue handling their own cargo at airports following a representation from them last week, according to a senior official.”Cargo carriers will be allowed to do their own ground handling and airport developers won’t be involved,” the official with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said on conditions of anonymity.

The move comes after cargo carriers told government last week that it would become difficult and uneconomical for them if the ground handling of cargo is delegated to airport developers as planned under a new ground handling policy scheduled to come into effect Jan 1.

Airport developers have been approached by both foreign and domestic ground handling companies for sub-contracts.

Like the cargo carriers, airlines too insist on handling their own cargo.

The representation from cargo carriers including Blue Dart have criticised the proposed policy, saying it ignored the concerns of the air cargo industry.

It said cargo handling is a specialised operation, and handing it over to airport developers would increase their overheads and decrease operational efficiency.

“Air cargo is a specialised form of cargo, which requires timely deliveries and guarantee on consignment, besides creating a customer friendly network,” said a Blue Dart official.

V.P. Aggarwal, AAI member, planning, did not specifically comment on the issue, but said efforts had to be made to boost the cargo segment.

“The growth in cargo is not adequate and so there is an urgent need for revival,” Aggarwal said at an airport exhibition here last week.

According to an Ernst and Young report, the ground handling market in India is estimated to be of Rs.30 billion. Sensing a business opportunity, both foreign and domestic ground handlers are making plans to enter Indian airports.

These companies believe that with more airports becoming functional, there will be enough space for all players to compete and thrive.

Subsequently, about 25 ground handlers from India and abroad are reported to have expressed interest in handling ground services in over 40 airports, where modernisation work is underway.

Multinational handlers such as SATS, Menzies, Dnata (the ground handling wing of the Emirates Group), GlobeGround, Swissport and Equity Aviation are among those entering the Indian ground handling segment on their own or through joint ventures with Indian ground handlers such as the Bobba Group.

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