Kochi: With the foreign cargo flight services restricted to just six airports in the country, the vegetable-fruit exports from Kerala have been hit. The exports have now been reduced to just one-fourth of the average quantities earlier. None of the airports from Kerala are included in the list notified by the Centre.
Currently, the perishable items are being exported in the space allotted for cargo in passenger flights. However, only 15 tonnes can be thus ferried in passenger planes, whereas up to 50-tonne cargo can be exported via freighter flights. The Aviation Ministry decided to restrict cargo flight services to the Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad airports from October 1.
Earlier, there were four cargo flights in a week from Thiruvananthapuram and 12 flights from the Kochi airport on an average. Around 150 tonnes of cargo were exported from Kochi in a day. Cargo flights of Emirates and Qatar Airways, among other foreign airlines, arrived in Kerala even during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The restrictions were reportedly brought in after the domestic airline companies complained of much of the export cargo going to the foreign freight carriers.
As the Indian airline companies do not have connection flights to several parts of the world, large quantities cannot be exported. However, as foreign airlines have connection flights to all countries, commodities can be exported to most parts of the world.
If the cargo is exported via the sea route, it would take seven days to reach Dubai. The export associations have demanded that this policy, which drastically affects the agricultural and spice markets of Kerala, be withdrawn at the earliest.