Mangalore, located some 350km to the west of India's IT capital Bangalore, is the main port city in the Karnataka state. Many SMEs in-and-around Mangalore move goods to the Bangalore and Chennai international airports to export their wares, Vasudeva said. “This can change,” he said.
State-run Airports Authority of India is almost done with refurbishing the old terminal building, which handled seven lakh passengers a day, into a domestic and international cargo complex, Vasudeva said.
The facility can handle five to 10 metric tons of cargo a day, including perishable cargo. There is ample scope for handling higher volumes of cargo, Vasudeva said.
Processed food and agro-products’ exporters; flower exporters; and marine products exporters eyeing markets in West Asia stand to benefit from the cargo complex at Mangalore airport – many small businesses cannot afford to move goods by sea because their export volumes are not large enough to pack a freight container, Vasudeva said.
The complex should be ready by end-August or early September, he said. The facility will first need to obtain custodianship from India’s Customs department. Once bestowed with custodianship, the airport and airliners will need 30 to 40 days to operationalize the facility and air-lift cargo from Mangalore.
“Small units exporting pappadams to the Gulf region are also looking to Mangalore airport now,” Vasudeva said.
Loss-ridden, state-run carrier Air India might air-lift cargo to West Asia, to start with. The carrier alone could potentially move up to two metric tons of cargo a day, Vasudeva said.