“From an underdog to a superdog” – Civil Aviation Minister lauds the Air Cargo sector at the ACFI Conference

The Air Cargo Forum India (ACFI) organised its biennial convention on the theme “10 Million: Vision 2030 – Stimulating, Scaling, Steering Air Cargo” in New Delhi on 10th May 2022. The Hon’ble Minister of Civil Aviation Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia graced the event with his presence as the Chief Guest and addressed the audience with a galvanizing speech, staying close to the ground reality and yet stimulating the flight towards achieving the 10 million MT goal of the air cargo sector. Mr. Piyush Srivastava, Senior Economic Advisor, Ministry of Civil Aviation was the Guest of Honor at the event.

Under the esteemed guidance and support of ACFI Director-General – Mr. K.S. Kunwar; President – Mr. Cyrus Katgara; Vice President – Mr. Yashpal Sharma; Secretary – Mr. Sanjiv Edward and Chairman – Mr. Arvind Aggarwal, the conference was concluded on a super successful note.

Mr. Cyrus Katgara made the welcome address to the guests and audience wherein he applauded the air cargo industry players including air carriers, freight forwarders and others. He also thanked the Hon’ble Minister for Civil Aviation for his constant support for Air Cargo sector’s endeavors and his help in the journey towards realizing the 10 million MT goal of 2030 by making air cargo the preferred mode.

Followed by Mr. Katgara, Mr. Piyush Srivastava addressed the audience with his signature positive aura. He said that although civil aviation industry was bogged down after being hit by the headwinds of the pandemic, air cargo sector stood tall as the knight in shining armor. He identified most crucial concerns of the air cargo sector that the MOCA is currently working on as reduction of area requirement for FTWZ and single bond faceless & paperless customs clearance. “Cargo is going to be the center stage of civil aviation industry”.

The Hon’ble Minister of Civil Aviation Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia made a power-packed and staggering speech to the audience. Stressing on the limitless potential of the air cargo sector, he enumerated the tripod strategy to achieve the 2030 goal of reaching 10 million MT cargo movement as:

  • The need to develop a hub and spoke model to achieve aggregation, transporting cargo from Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities to Tier-1 cities, not just from Tier-1 to international locations.
  • Feeder services and wide-bodied aircraft to transition India as a transhipment hub
  • Improving infrastructure, including the ease of doing business, paperless/faceless processing of cargo and inducing digitisation.

Our industry has been through a very difficult time. Every dawn hails a new sunrise, and to that thought, the silver lining among those dark clouds has seen the rise of the air cargo industry – which was earlier an underdog, has now performed as a superdog.”

~ Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation

Talking about the reforms in the sector, the Minister commented, “To achieve the target of 10 million metric tonnes in cargo, the industry players need to focus on transportation of smaller cargo loads from Tier II & III cities to metros which can be achieved by the acquisition of smaller size aircraft. To facilitate this, we are also establishing 33 new domestic cargo terminals by 2024-2025 which will allow our cargo sector to flourish and grow. We need to work on ease of doing business in cargo sector by making processes paperless, adapting automation, digitalization which can make cargo processing swift.”

Mr. Scindia’s address was followed by the vote of thanks by ACFI VP Mr. Yashpal Sharma, assuring everyone present, that in light of the demand stimulated by the manufacturing industry, the air cargo sector was ready to scale up and meet the vision 2030, while being steered by MOCA’s leadership & open-sky policies.

Session 1 – The Power of the Industry: Sectoral drivers of growth

Mr. Vipul Bhalla, Immediate Past Chairman, BAR Cargo India, moderated this session which focused on drivers of growth for the air cargo sector. The panel for this session included distinguished experts who are celebrated in their respective fields – Dr. M.J. Khan, Chairman (Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture), Dr. Ravi Prakash Mathur, Vice President Supply Chain Management (Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories), Mr. Saurav Khurana (Amazon India), Mr. Anoop Thatai, Mentor (FA-Home), and Mr. Edwin Jesudass, GM Customs and Logistics Import & Export (Siemens India).

Covering major sectors like agri, pharma, apparel & textile as well as electronics and consumer marketplace, the insightful session had discussions revolving around perishables transport (international as well as domestic), adopting digitization instead of conventional methods of record-keeping, inter-operability, PLI schemes and other infrastructural developments throughout the air cargo sector.

If you can have a Make My Trip for passengers, why can you have a Make My Shipment for cargo?”

~ Dr. Ravi Prakash Mathur, VP Supply Chain Management (Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories)

To make air cargo as preferred mode of transportation, we need to bring more shippers on-board, not just high value ones, pressing the need to make air cargo more affordable.”

~ Mr. Saurav Khurana (Amazon India)

Session 2 – Air Cargo Deliverables

Mr. Sanjiv Edward, Chief Commercial Officer, Delhi International Airport Limited, moderated this session which focused on putting the target of 10 million MT in perspective, discussing the opportunities and the contributions that the stakeholders can make. The panel for this session included representatives from all stakeholder categories of air cargo sector – Mr. Atul Singh, IRS, Additional Director, ICEGATE, Director General – System (Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs), Mr. Kamesh Peri, Chief Executive Officer (Celebi Delhi Cargo Terminal Management India Pvt.Ltd.), Mr. Ramesh Mamidala, Chief Cargo Officer (Adani Airports Holdings Ltd.), and Mr. Satish Lakkaraju, Senior Vice President (Radar Ventures Pvt.Ltd. (Wiz Freight)).

This session had multiple mentions of how the government has transformed itself into the role of being a facilitator and an enabler for the air cargo sector. There were discussions around making India a transshipment hub for the world, while embracing multi-modal transportation and the developing the capital and human infrastructure for achieving the feat.

To achieve 10 million MT, we need to augment the cargo handling capacity, be it at the airports or far from it. This endeavor may create a INR 2,500 crore cost, but will also generate a revenue of around INR 6,000 crore.”

~ Mr. Ramesh Mamidala, Chief Cargo Officer (Adani Airports Holdings Ltd.)

Speed, consistency and efficiency is required to better our performance in the international scenario”

~ Mr. Kamesh Peri, CEO (Celebi Delhi Cargo Terminal Management India Pvt.Ltd.)

Session 3 – Growth in altered landscape

Mr. Yashpal Sharma, Managing Director, Skyways Group and VP-ACFI, moderated this session where the headwinds bought by the pandemic were contrasted with the achievements and growth expectations in the aftermath of it. The panel for this session included seasoned experts representing demand, supply and management of air cargo sector – Dr. Vasudevan S., Partner and Global Sector Lead (Airports – KMPG India), Mr. Camilo Garcia Cervera, Global VP Business Development (Webcargo by Freightos), Mr. Keku Gazder, Managing Director and CEO (Aviapro Logistics), Mr. Motilal Sethi, Regional Chairman – Northern Region (Council of Leather Export), and Mr. Manoj Singh, Sr. Vice President & Head – Cargo (Mumbai International Airport Limited).

The third and final session of the conference was woven around how the ‘new normal’ (the pandemic, Ukraine war and China’s overextended lockdowns, in light of technology and sustainability as new global buzzwords) has impacted overall economic activity in India and what it means for the growth of air cargo sector.

As a community, we need to identify opportunities before they surface, in order to grow as the world is constantly evolving.

~ Mr. Keku Gazder, Managing Director and CEO (Aviapro Logistics)

Global turbulences are a temporary phase, but India is making a permanent place in the global realignment. With China not completely functional, we are becoming a reliable alternative.

~ Mr. Motilal Sethi, Regional Chairman – Northern Region (Council of Leather Export)

The event was concluded with the felicitation of sponsors and the trainers of ACFI’s skill development training programs. The final vote of thanks was presented by Mr. Arun Kumar, Board Member – ACFI.

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