Tiruchi Airport operates non-scheduled overseas cargo flights despite lockdown

Tiruchi International Airport in Tamil Nadu has been operating non-scheduled overseas flights to export vegetables and fruits even during the lockdown period.

The non-metro international airport has been witnessing steady movement of overseas freight now and then lifted by different overseas carriers to Singapore, Dubai and Kuwait.

According to the sources from the airport, last month alone 185 tonnes of cargo was exported from the airport which has also seen movement of evacuation flights to bring back Indians stranded abroad and rescue flights to take back stranded Malaysian nationals from Tamil Nadu.

During the past month, Tiruchi airport lifted the maximum quantity of overseas freight to Singapore consisting of vegetables, fruits and curry leaves. A little over 160 tonnes of freight was lifted by SpiceJet and IndiGo airlines to Singapore on different dates over the last one month.

Even during the pre-lockdown period, Singapore was one of the major overseas markets for vegetables exported from Tiruchi airport.

During the lockdown period, for the first time, a dedicated cargo freighter was operated by the SpiceJet from Tiruchi to Singapore to lift vegetables and fruits. Besides Singapore, about 3.2 tonnes of overseas cargo was lifted to Dubai by the Air India Express and 18.92 tonnes to Kuwait by Kuwait Airways.

Both flights were operated to bring back Indians from the two West Asian destinations in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides vegetables and fruits, there were also a couple of overseas shipments of cheese from here, informed the sources.

SpiceJet alone had operated 10 flights from Tiruchi to lift export cargo during the lockdown period followed by Kuwait Airways which operated three non-scheduled flights, the sources said.

The steady movement of international freight, especially during COVID-19 period, is certainly a positive development for Tiruchi airport. Tiruchi fared better in respect of export of cargo than other non-metro airports in the southern region.

~A Senior Airports Authority of India official

All the non-scheduled flights were operated upon obtaining specific approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the official said.

While the global air cargo demand falls by 28% year-on-year due to COVID-19, the Tiruchi International Airport exceeded the internal target set in respect of export cargo movement in the current fiscal.

The airport during the fiscal year 2019-20 surpassed the set target 7,500 tonnes and exported over 8,100 tonnes of cargo, said an official.

In May, CSMIA in Mumbai also processed a total of 30,000 tonnes of cargo which include 18,000 tonnes of export products and over 12,000 tonnes of imports.

The airport registered admittance exports of 725 tonnes and received 501 tonnes of import additionally has made import delivery of 471 tonnes approximately.

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