Union govt’s foreign air cargo policy costs Kerala dear

By Sanila Arjun

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Photo - PTI

Kochi: The revenue generation through exports via airports in Kerala has been declining drastically in the last few years. The exports through Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode airports have reduced from $36.65 crore recorded in 2019-19 FY to $23.47 crore in 2021-22 FY.

In the first half of the current fiscal year (2022-23), exports worth only $6.2 million were handled through the three airports. The export through Kannur airport started from the financial year 2021-22, and only business of $9.7 lakh took place during this period. Between April to August 2022-23, products worth $7.5 lakh were exported through Kannur airport.

It is worth noting that exports were hit due to the ban on non-scheduled foreign cargo flights at Kerala airports. In October 2020, the union government brought out the revised 'Open Skies' policy to promote cargo flights. According to this, foreign cargo flights are allowed only at six airports --- Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

The policy backfired for Kerala as scheduled foreign cargo and Indian cargo flights stopped operating from here. Earlier, foreign airlines used to operate cargo flights in Kerala based on export orders and demand. With the new policy, exporters have become increasingly dependent on Chennai and Bengaluru airports. As a result, the cargo is exported by road to these airports. Currently, only a limited number of cargo could be exported through airports in Kerala with the help of passenger airlines.

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