Need to maximise use of aviation assets to lower logistics cost: Gadkari

India needs to scale up use of its aviation assets such as grounded aircraft and less-used airports for cargo handling so that logistics costs decline and export of resources such as fish, vegetables and fruits become viable, transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.

In an online interaction with members of Domestic Air Cargo Agents Association of India, Gadkari said he will speak with his cabinet colleague and defence minister Rajnath Singh for using assets such as de-commissioned aircraft of Indian Air Force for cargo handling.

This, he said, will make exports of certain Indian commodities more viable, enhance income of people and benefit the nation. “The government will support your efforts. The point is we need to get maximum work done by our assets and elicit maximum utility to keep costs low,” the minister said, adding that the country needs to bring down its logistic cost from the currently estimated 13%.

“I have many suggestions for air cargo movement. There is a lot to do, especially in the case of fruits, vegetables and fish. Our marine economy is worth one trillion. We want to scale it up to 6 trillion but our biggest problem is transportation,” the minister said. An efficient air cargo ecosystem will help in exporting items like prawns from cities like Nagpur to Dubai and Singapore, Gadkari said.

The minister further said higher logistics cost has been one of the challenges for the industry, and in India the cost is much higher than nations such as China and the US.

Citing an example of the 12-lane Delhi-Mumbai expressway that is currently in the works, he said the project is expected to drastically cut down travel time between the two cities. “The number of trips taken by a truck will also increase and cost will go down,” Gadkari said.

Construction has been initiated on some corridors, which will include the Delhi-Mumbai expressway, and is expected to be completed by 2023. Such projects are expected to provide alternate routes to diversify traffic, provide connectivity for major towns, thereby reducing distance and travel time, along with giving thrust to backward regions in the country by improving infrastructure.