Air Cargo India: improvements needed to unlock potential of India


India needs to improve three areas if it wants to unlock the potential and opportunities that exist in its expanding air cargo market.

Speaking at Air Cargo India in the session ‘India, a global air cargo force – potential and pitfalls’, Lufthansa Cargo’s executive board member, Alexis von Hoensbroech who was a panelist, says: “We see great potential and growth in India over the last few years. This is a country, which has far more potential but to unlock this the key is infrastructure, bureaucracy and digitization.”

He explains infrastructure includes not only cargo facilities at airports, but also relieving congestion issues on roads in and around the country, but he did pin-point a need for more cold chain facilities, which he says are needed to meet demand in the growing pharmaceuticals and perishables sectors.

Cutting down bureaucracy in doing business is another where improvement is needed, von Hoensbroech tells delegates at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai: “This is not only at government level, but within our own supply chain. It means things take far too long – through all the paperwork.

“The long wait times are not necessary for air cargo and paper processes make them longer. Speed is king in air cargo.”

As for digitization, he says India can really make a difference and adopting technology and getting rid of paper can speed up the efficiency of the supply chain. He believes if India does this, everything else will follow and the market will expand.

Speaking generally about the air cargo industry as a whole was Saudia Cargo’s vice president for commercial, Rainer Mueller who calls for the setting up of a single IT platform, which he feels is urgently needed and would also benefit India.

He is perplexed as to why this has not been introduced, noting how the passenger side of aviation has two or three systems in place: “What I do not understand is we did not manage that in 30 years. We need to get our acts together.”

Meanwhile from the air charter perspective, Air Charter Service’s chief executive officer, Justin Bowman tells delegates he want to see quicker access in India granted for operators of charter flights: “If you are lucky you can get a permit in three days, but this can take 30-40 phone calls to get, which compares to Hong Kong, which is much quicker and can only five phone calls.

“The Indian authorities do not make it easy to operate (charters). The issue is of ad-hoc airlines being able to operate quickly. There should be five or six hubs and the authorities should make it 24 hours making it easier for shippers with just-in-time shipments.

“We can assist shippers’ with exports, but we needs to get it to the rest of the world and the only way is to make it easier and quicker for us.”

For Qatar Airways’ vice president of global sales for cargo, Daniel Parker the value of the industry in India must be sold more to shippers and more investments should be made in line with economies of scale.

He singles out the Indian pharma market which is now the second biggest in the world, and says expansion must be made using economies of scale and sheer size of the market such as pharma and urges more facilities need to be built to handle pharma cargo.