Air Cargo Logistics in India- Problems and Challenges

Air Cargo Logistics

Air Cargo Logistics play a vital role in the economic development of a nation. The domestic and international air cargo forecast for India is expected to grow by eight to ten times the present level in the next twenty years. The demand for air cargo transportation has increased significantly over the last few years, because product life cycles have shortened and demand for rapid delivery has increased. The changes in the business models such as Just-in-Time Manufacturing and Global out sourcing models have contributed to the rapid growth of air cargo logistics business.

Challenges in Air Cargo Logistics

Inadequate and overloaded infrastructure facility

Airports were developed primarily from passenger’s point of view, and thus requirement of cargo facility development was not taken seriously. Cargo is generally the last part to be thought of and is relegated to that part of the airport which is considered not important otherwise. Cargo infrastructure at any airport is just not the cargo terminal building that houses, the warehouse but also the related facilities including special facilities for express freight, frozen foods, airmail, and hazardous goods.

There are gaps in key facility infrastructure at cargo terminals in gateway airports such as:

  • Shortage of landside truck docks, vehicle holding area and airside operational space
  • Insufficient entry gates and lack of upgraded handling equipment and trolleys
  • Lack of specialized storage and handling facilities for hazardous, radioactive and valuable cargo
  • Lack of sufficient cold storage capacity for perishables cargo

Regulatory Hurdles and Other Processes/Procedures/ Systems

Speed of delivery is crucial to efficient logistics. Regulatory processes and the regulatory environment play a key role in the movement of cargo by air and express delivery industry. Regulatory obligations are required to be fulfilled within a very short delivery timeframe. A simple, transparent and efficient regulatory environment without compromising on regulatory requirements is necessary for enabling faster movement of cargo/EDS by air.

Automation and IT challenges

Automation and mechanization are not widely used in the Indian airports to the extent that it is available and should be used. Technology like Warehouse Management System (WMS), Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID), Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) should be leveraged to increase automation to facilitate quicker and more efficient operations leading to decongestion at the airports.

Air Cargo is becoming an increasingly important aspect of Indian external sector. Though some improvements have been witnessed in the recent past, numerous bottlenecks continue to bedevil the chain of air cargo sector. To overcome the challenges faced some of the initiatives needed to be taken by the various governing bodies. Certain policies for inter-alia were recognized criticality for air cargo/air express industry to the economic progress.

  1. Air Cargo Policy and Regulatory Framework governing Air Cargo operations should be enabling and facilitating India’s International and domestic trade for ensuring efficient, secure, safe and streamlined air cargo services to and from every part of the country so as to achieve competitive positioning with efficiency, value addition and yield.
  2. Structured and inclusive planning and timely/ effective implementation of setting up world class infrastructure for air cargo operations at and off airports with full facilitation to achieve greater throughput efficiency, reduced dwell time and maximization of the installation capacity
  • Global benchmarking of all aspects –infrastructure, regulations, processes and procedures including documentation, communications, use of technology and an    effective yet conducive security regime

 Cargo continues to have relatively low priority in planning, allocation of space, budget and human resource as also the timing of developmental built up. Barring the Green field airports there has been a lack of planned and integrated development of cargo facilities at Indian airports including standardization and benchmarking of deliverables.

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