The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of the airport has a direct bearing on the air cargo, which has dropped by more than 50%.
However, the cargo traffic is increasing constantly, with the city airport in December handling more than 70% of the freight that it handled in the same month in 2019.
As per the data with the Airport Authority of India, the airport handled only 3,625 tonnes of cargo during April-December 2020, compared to 7,515 tonnes in the same period in 2019. Pointing out that their cargo space was the belly of a passenger flight, R Mahalingam, city airport director, said, “Unless the number of flights touch that of the previous year (2019), cargo movement won’t match the previous levels. We are utilizing almost 80% of the existing cargo space we have.”
Airport officials said only 18 flights were operating to and from the city, compared to 36 in 2019. “Timing of the flights is also important. For example, base flights are convenient for cargo, compared to afternoon flights, because we have more loading time. Despite the number of base flights getting reduced to one from three, we are on a journey to normalcy,” the airport director said.
The domestic cargo movement, which stood at 236 tonnes in June, has grown to 608 tonnes in September and 615 tonnes in November. In December, it stood at 575 tonnes. “Our domestic cargo is mainly perishables and engineering goods. Movement of perishables like flowers, fruits and vegetables, is always higher during the festive seasons,” said a cargo department official, explaining the zig zag graph.