India needs to enhance its cargo-carrying capacity to reduce logistics cost and there is a need to look into the possibility of converting old aircraft of Defence and airlines into cargo carriers, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.
Interacting with members from Domestic Air Cargo Agents Association of India, the Road Transport and Highways Minister also said India has huge potential in the fishery and the fish economy can reach Rs 6 lakh crore from the present Rs 1 lakh crore.
“Transportation of agriculture, fish and other products is a major problem the country is facing…We need to enhance the cargo-carrying capacity to bring down logistics cost. There is a need to explore the possibility of converting old Defence and Airlines aircraft into cargo carriers,” Gadkari said addressing the Association through video conference.
The Minister said the logistics costs in India is as high as 13 per cent as compared to 8 per cent in developed nations.
“Defence and airline old planes can be converted into cargo carriers for taking products to foreign countries and pilots could be employed on a contract basis,” the Minister said and added that the Association should also look into the possibility of roping in Jet Airways’ fleet.
Gadkari also urged the Association to look into developing infrastructure around airports and if cooling plants etc could be installed on the side of the airports.
He also said NHAI is working on 17 such highway stretches which could double up as airstrips and could be explored for it later.
He said India has huge potential to export goods that include agriculture products, fruits, vegetables and fisheries.
“The fish economy, which is at present of Rs 1 lakh crore has the potential to reach Rs 6 lakh crore,” the Minister said.
He said likewise oranges and prawns could be exported from Nagpur while onions and grapes could be sent to London, Dubai etc from Nasik. Besides, litchi from Bihar can be exported. But economic viability will be there, only if the logistics cost is less.
He urged the Association to look into investing in the sector from a public-private partnership.
Besides, he asked them to look into utilising passenger flights for transporting goods, if returning empty.
Only one or two per cent of India’s cargo volume is carried through the air, the Association said.