Thursday, August 19, 2021

How Air Cargo Can Help India Recover

The year 2020, during which the COVID-19 pandemic caused massive disruptions in India’s aviation sector, forced the government to impose strict restrictions on air travel, resulting in a sharp decline in air traffic.

However, some domestic airlines facing the gloomy prospect of heavy losses turned their attention to the air cargo sector, which appears promising and could get a strong boost if India also builds up cargo transit hubs.

Demand for sophisticated ground support equipment (GSE) is also expected to grow as the government embarks on modernizing airport operations using the latest technology that would boost efficiency and help save time and costs.

Indeed, the nation’s apex airport managing agency, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which owns 125 of the nation’s 460 airports, is working to upgrade ground handling and ensure long-term functioning – at least for 10 years.

The AAI has taken initiatives to appoint ground handling agencies for 83 state-run airports for a 10-year period. Airport officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that the intention was to cut the size of the ground handling personnel on the airside, and streamline the process so that “untoward incidents” can be avoided.

Air India Airport Services Ltd., a fully-owned subsidiary of the national carrier Air India, and the Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited (AISATS) – the latter a 50:50 joint venture of Air India Limited and SATS Limited – are the country’s two major ground handling agencies.

Airlines such as Indigo and SpiceJet do their own ground handling at a number of Indian airports, using their employees for this purpose. But others contract third parties to provide such services.  International airlines use the services of domestic ground handling agencies in India.

19/08/21 Manik Mehta/AviationPros

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