With international cargo leading the recovery, cargo volumes at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB/ BLR Airport) are gathering momentum, following a prolonged slump due to the pandemic. This resurgence in cargo movement powered BLR Airport to become the first metro airport in India to record growth in freight in September 2020, compared to the same period last year. Improved connectivity and increase in Passenger to Cargo (P2C) aircraft, combined with proactive measures by Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) enable seamless processing to have pushed cargo volumes into positive territory.
In the first first two quarters of FY2020-21, between April and September, BLR Airport cargo terminals processed 131,603 metric tonnes (MT) of freight. The cargo processed in September was 32,449 MT, a growth of +0.3 per cent, against same period last year. September 2020 witnessed a +4.5 per cent growth in international cargo, of which export cargo grew by +7.6 per cent. Meanwhile, domestic cargo is showing a slower recovery at -5.2% lower than the same period in the previous year.
Perishable cargo has been one of the major growth drivers, with BLR Airport having processed 17,212 MT during this period. According to APEDA, the airport accounted for highest exports of perishables among Indian Airports till June 2020. It also processed 180,745 kgs of pomegranate from April to August 2020, to emerge as the leading Airport for pomegranate exports from India. The other segments driving growth are readymade garments, engineering goods, pharma and medical supplies.
The introduction of road feeder service – LOGI Connect – to link cities like Tirupur, Coimbatore, Ambur, Salem, Erode, Hyderabad and Chennai further augmented growth, powering BLR Airport’s all-India market share of air cargo from 11 per cent to 14 per cent.
Before the pandemic, around 60 per cent of domestic and international freight was being carried in belly space of passenger aircraft and the remainder in freighters. With the reduction in passenger flights due to restrictions, several airlines – both domestic and international – converted P2C aircraft , enabling the availability of a larger amount of cargo capacity. As a result, BLR Airport saw the growth of cargo aircraft movements by 139 per cent against the previous year. While Q2 witnessed a 46 per cent growth in ATMs against Q1, the total tonnage, too, improved by 84%.