Despite Onam, fruit-vegetable exports in crisis: Centre’s Open Sky Policy badly impacts Kerala

Sanila Arjun

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Kochi: Central government’s amended Open Sky Policy which restricts entry of foreign cargo flights to airports in Kerala has been badly impacting state’s fruit-vegetable exports. The big revenue loss witnessed during Vishu-Ramzan season stretches to Onam season too due to the restrictive policy.

Though there is a huge demand for fruits and vegetables from Kerala in Gulf countries, US and European countries, the Open Sky Policy stands as a road block. Meanwhile, at airports in Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, the entry of foreign cargo flights is allowed. As a result, exporters from Kerala need to completely rely on other states. However, it is pertinent to note that exporters need to bear extra cost, including the road freight charges, to dispatch the loads to airports in other states. This has forced many exporters to back off from accepting orders.

Meanwhile, exports are happening in a small scale through passenger flights. However, due to space demand, Rs 170 to Rs 180 is being levied for a kg as freight charges.

Notably, before the amended policy, around 10 cargo flight services were operating from Kerala. Even places like Ooty, Coorg and Nanjangud were relying on Kerala for exports.

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