Telangana and Uttar Pradesh both are waiting for a green signal from the Centre for a Cargo Airport of their own. While Telangana has zoomed in on northern Hyderabad for a dedicated Cargo Airport, Uttar Pradesh plans to construct it up in the western part of the state, once the green signal is received from the Centre.
According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, while there are five operational airports in the (erstwhile) state of undivided Andhra Pradesh, which operate for both carrying passengers as well as cargo, Uttar Pradesh also has five operational airports used for carrying both passengers and cargo.
In fact, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is looking into possible sites across India that are industrial- and consumption-clusters, and has appointed a consultant to do the ground work of researching and suggesting names of airports and sites in the country that can either be developed or converted into a dedicated cargo airport.
Once the airports and sites have been demarcated, and plans finalised, and the approval of the Centre is received, the AAI will proceed with facilitating the construction of cargo airports.
The Cargo Airports which may also be termed as merchant airports, will act as air cargo hubs and need to fulfil the following criteria to ensure commercial viability for the airlines:
- These airports should be geographically suitable for air transportation.
- The site has to be a consumption cluster. In other words, it should have a huge demand for consumer goods.
- The site should be an industrial cluster, i.e., it should be an industrial area with many manufacturing units.
- The site should be well connected to other regions by rail and road apart from airport network to ensure multi-modal transport connectivity.
- The site should be capable of handling large aircrafts for transporting cargo in large volumes and for airlifting purposes.
Increase in Demand for Air Transport Freight
India has seen an increase in the demand for air freight cargo in the past three-and-a-half decades both within the borders as well as globally.
According to the World Bank data, air transport freight is measured in metric tons times kilometres travelled.
Air transport freight for India grew from 96.3 million ton-km in the year 1970 to 1,833.8 million ton-km in 2015 (it was 1,851.3 million ton-km in 2014). Global air transport freight grew from 15,568.7 million ton-km in 1973 to 188,000.2 million ton-km in 2015, the World Bank data showed.
India has 50 airports engaged in handling air transport freight. In 2017, India saw the first airport perishable centre set up in Kempegowda International Airport in Bangalore with customised cold storage solutions. An air cargo facility is also being planned in Vishakhapatnam to meet the demands of the local industry.
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