E-comm shipments, perishables drive Bengaluru Airport cargo biz during pandemic

Covid-19 pandemic has offered an opportunity for Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru in cargo handling. The airport had processed 34,339 tonnes of cargo movement in October 2020, recording a 26-month high in tonnage.

The airport also witnessed a highest-ever domestic outbound tonnage of 8,117 tonnes in October, largely driven by e-commerce shipments.

Satyaki Raghunath, Chief Strategy and Development Officer, BIAL, said, “Perishable commodities, which have been the major growth driver for BLR Airport in financial year (FY) 2020-21, continued to be the top international commodity, accounting for 12 per cent of total exports in October. Doha has emerged as the top destination in October, with 1,095 tonnes.”

He said after becoming the first airport in India to record positive growth in September, the trend continued in October, registering a 0.1 per cent increase against October 2019.

The record single-day Air Traffic Movement (ATM) was 52 ATMs on October 22, with 1,359 tonnes of cargo processed.

Mid-term plan

“Today the airport has about 570,000 tonnes annual cargo capacity between two terminals. In order to sustain and augment that capacity over the median-term, we believe that we need to be in the range of somewhere between 750,000-850,000 tonnes per annum in terms of capacity.” Raghunath added.

“So we’ve been thinking about ways to increase cargo capacity and development of new cargo infrastructure in the longer term in the east side of the airport,” he said.

As part of the median-term plan for BLR Airport, Raghunath said, “Agro perishables is will be very important and probably be 20 per cent of total exports in south india. The export potential is likely to be about 60,000 tonnes by 2030.”

From a pharma and chemicals perspective, “We’re looking at 30 per cent of exports from south India from the airport. That could contribute 30,000 tonnes by 2030,” he said.

He added, “E-retail segment is likely to contribute 45 per cent of domestic cargo and that will be 200,000 tonnes by 2030. We’re also likely to have healthcare and life sciences, electronics, textiles each of which is likely to contribute to the volumes of cargo processed through the airport.”