Air cargo volumes to grow by 60%, infra still a concern: Report
Mumbai: Air cargo volumes are expected to grow by 60 per cent over the next five years, but the infrastructure bottlenecks are a major constraint which can impede the sector's ability, a report said on Tuesday.
It also called for an increase in the cargo handling capacity by nearly 50 per cent to support the demand.
The capacity of all the airports in the country currently stands at 4.63 million tonnes and there is a need to create at least 2 million tonnes more of capacity to meet the projected demand increase of 60 per cent over the next five years, ratings agency Icra said in a note.
"Growing e-commerce, improving air connectivity across small airports in the country and growth in GDP are expected to result in growth in air cargo traffic. Infrastructure bottlenecks remain a major constraint to the growth prospects of air cargo and the same need to be addressed," its sector head for corporate ratings Harsh Jagnani said.
It can be noted that the present efforts of the government seemed to be largely focused on upping the connectivity from a passenger travel perspective.
"The air cargo infrastructure in India is increasingly getting constrained by the strong growth in traffic for last few years," the agency said.
The Hong Kong airport alone handled 4.9 million tonnes of air cargo in 2017 as against the 3.3 million tonnes done by all the airports in India, according to Icra.
Jagnani said plans are afoot to make metro airports cargo hubs catering to the neighbouring regions, but underlined that India has a significant potential to be a transhipment hub for international cargo movement from other countries given its geographic location.
"India needs multi-fold approach to development of cargo infrastructure which looks as upgrading existing cargo terminals with advanced technologies, development of new cargo terminals at airports, dedicated cargo airports, and air freight stations," he added.
The agency said the country faces issues like high dwell time which prevents a plane from taking back to air sooner, which can be addressed by having air freight stations that are present at global airports.