Our tech-based cargo infrastructure provides rapid distribution of perishables: Satyaki Raghunath, BIAL

Paving its way through the pandemic, the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) has been performing exceptionally well and broken previous records of managing the highest ever cargo time and again. In an attempt to understand the key factors that contributed to this phenomenal growth, we spoke to Satyaki Raghunath, Chief Strategy & Development Officer, BIAL, as he gives us a closer look at the airport accomplishments, the technological innovations enabling BIAL’s success and a lot more. Edited excerpts

Cargo volumes at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru have continued to see impressive growth, despite the challenging circumstances. Throw light on the recent numbers of processed cargo and what are the factors that have led to this impressive growth?

The Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (BLR Airport) recorded its highestever cargo tonnage in Calendar Year 2021 (CY 2021), despite a turbulent pandemic environment. During this period, BLR Airport processed an all-time high tonnage of 406,688 Metric Tonnes (MT) of cargo, recording a significant growth of 28.6% vs. 316,305MT in CY 2020. This is 7.2% more than the pre-COVID level tonnage of 379,348MT in CY 2019.

International cargo recorded a 32.8% growth, with 265,873MT processed in CY 2021 versus 200,209MT in CY 2020. Domestic cargo grew at 21.3%, with 140,815 MT processed versus 116,096MT in CY 2020. The US and Europe continue to be the top trade lanes from BLR Airport, with approx. 42% of the market share.

Currently, 13 airlines operate freighters to and from BLR Airport to various domestic and international destinations. Commodities driving growth are perishables (both agricultural and poultry products), pharma, chemicals, and textiles in the ‘exports’ category, and electronics, heavy machinery, healthcare, and life science products in the ‘imports’ category. Notably, BLR Airport has emerged as the No.1 Airport in the country for perishable exports, accounting for 31.0% of India’s total perishable shipments during FY 2020-21.

Key factors that contributed to the cargo growth at BLR Airport are our resilient ecosystem that
ensured efficient operations round-the-clock; focus on supply chain efficiencies; a conducive
geographic location, aided with robust infrastructure and technology; the right mix of commodities, and adequate airline capacities to key markets globally.

Bangalore International Airport Limited rolled out the Airport Cargo Community System (ACS) at Kempegowda International Airport this year to digitalize and streamline cargo operations. How is it benefitting the cargo stakeholders at the airport?

As part of our digital transformation efforts, together with our cargo community, we implemented an Airport Cargo Community System (ACS) to streamline the movement of cargo through the supply chain at the Airport.

ACS is a single-window digital platform that enables access to members of the supply chain for various transactions. The platform also reduces congestion at the terminal (thereby managing surges in volumes) and eliminates the need for duplication of paperwork. ACS creates the necessary transparency and visibility for partners in the BLR Airport ecosystem.

In October last year, Bengaluru Airport emerged as the No. 1 Airport in the Country for perishable shipments. Comment on the cargo infrastructure at the airport which has facilitated the handling and distribution of perishables efficiently.

We processed 48,130 MT of perishables in the FY 2020-21, accounting for 31% of India’s total perishable shipments. BLR Airport emerged as the leading Airport for exports of poultry products and flowers during the same period.

The perishables, which also included vegetables and fruits, were carried by 24 airlines to 46 international destinations. Doha, Singapore, London, and Muscat were top destinations. 24×7 support from Indian Customs, Plant Quarantine Office Bangalore, APEDA, and Karnataka State Agricultural Produce Processing and Export Corporation Limited (KAPPEC), Government of Karnataka, has facilitated the creation of a robust business environment.

Our tech-based cargo infrastructure provides rapid distribution of perishables, making BLR Airport the preferred cargo airport in South India. We aim to create an environment that enables our cargo partners to introduce new initiatives and facilities that cater to constantly evolving demand.

End-to-end visibility has become a prerequisite for any supply chain. Let’s talk about some of the technological innovations that have enabled this for BIAL.

Cold-chain is in demand, more than ever., and so is the demand for facilities that maintain the shelf life of products, especially perishables, such as food items and vaccines. Perishables & pharmaceuticals have been amongst the major growth drivers in the past 2 years at BLR, accounting for 12% and 13%, respectively, of the total international cargo throughput.

To meet this demand, we have collaborated with our partners to introduce technology to drive growth. We have an integrated IoT based solution to enable live monitoring of temperature-sensitive products.

In addition, cold-chain facility for international cargo at BLR Airport also received a boost with Envirotainer, a world leader in active cold-chain solutions for air cargo. This enables pharmaceutical companies and their logistics partners to move temperature-sensitive cargo across the world while maintaining the integrity and quality of products throughout the journey.

Our cargo infrastructure, powered with technology, provides rapid distribution of perishable cargo.

This is an abridged version of the original interview that was published in the February edition of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete article, get your copy of the magazine.

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