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Govt actively pushing for air freight stations: Civil Aviation Ministry

New Delhi: The government is actively pushing for establishment of air freight stations as it looks at ways to reduce costs involved in air cargo operations, a senior official said Tuesday.

The Civil Aviation Ministry is expected to soon come out with an air cargo policy that would seek to address various problems faced by the industry players.

"We are actively pushing for establishment of offsite Air Freight Stations. This is against financial interests of the airport operators... but that is the way forward... We are committed to making air cargo affordable," Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said here.

Air Freight Station (AFS) is an off-airport common user facility that offers service for handling and temporary storage of import and export cargo.

Noting that the air cargo policy would have answers to many problems faced by the industry, he said the ministry would try to transfer many functions related to air cargo operations offsite since space at airports is expensive.

Speaking at the event, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said air cargo has huge potential in the country.

An integrated logistics policy is also being worked out and would be announced soon so that cargo moves in an efficient manner, he added.

While the country's domestic aviation market is one of the fastest growing in the world, air cargo operations have been relatively sluggish. Against this backdrop, the ministry is working on ways to bolster the air cargo sector.

AFS, the counter part of Inland Container Depot (ICD) for maritime cargo, would also help in de-congesting air cargo terminals at various airports.

They were speaking at an air cargo summit organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A report by Auctus Advisors was released.

Total air cargo at all Indian airports during 2016-17 and 2017-18 witnessed a growth of 10.1 per cent and 12.7 per cent, respectively with 3.35 million metric tonnes cargo traffic in financial year 2018, as per the report.

International cargo contributes about 60 per cent of the country's total cargo industry with "double the growth rate as compared to domestic cargo business," it added.

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