Government to issue more licences for air cargo operations

February 22nd, 2008 - 11:38 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) As India is poised to become an international hub for air cargo operations in South Asia, the government is planning to issue more licences to boost the sector. An official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said more licences for cargo operations would be allotted once the metro and 35 non-metro airports across the country are upgraded and developed. In the meantime, the DGCA is expected to issue a few more licences to meet the growing demand for air cargo.

The development of non-metro airports is scheduled to be completed by 2010, while metro airports would take more time. A cargo hub is coming up at Nagpur in Maharastra. Besides, metro airports are being expanded for cargo operations.

“There are many applicants who have applied for a licence to operate air cargo in India. Licences would be issued according to the infrastructure available at airports,” said a senior official of the DGCA.

Also, big corporate houses are considering entering this market. After domestic aviation giant Jet Airways expressed interest in air cargo operations, Reliance Industries, the country’s leading corporate house, also has hinted similar plans, sources in the ministry said.

Apart from Air India, which has dedicated freighter operations, Jet Airways has plans to start cargo operations in the next 18 months. Flyington Freighters and Aryan Cargo Express are also slated to start cargo services. At present, there are only 12-13 aircraft dedicated to freighter services in India.

The recent cabinet decision to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) cap from 49 percent to 74 percent is expected to boost the air cargo sector. The decision says no direct or indirect investment by foreign airlines would be allowed in case of scheduled, non-scheduled and chartered airlines.

“The aviation industry has demanded the government allow foreign investors in air cargo sector. Once FDI from foreign carriers is allowed, many major carriers will buy stakes in Indian cargo carriers,” said Kuljeet Singh, partner, Ernst and Young (E&Y).

According to the World Air Cargo Forecast 2007 report, India is the leading international freight market in the subcontinent. It stated that the airfreight market from India and its neighbouring countries constituted approximately 3.9 percent of the world’s air cargo traffic in tonnage and 4.2 percent in tonne-kilometres in 2005.

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