Exporters hit as Air Asia stops cargo service

Exporters from the region have been left high and dry after Air Asia, the top cargo-lifting carrier at Trichy international airport, temporarily stopped booking of consignments from Saturday. This has also come as a big blow for the cargo officials who had set a target of 7,000 metric tonnes for the financial year. Since Saturday, three Air Asia flights had flown from here without carrying any export cargo instead of an average 10 tonnes they used to lift. The airport was declared as a cargo port on November 21, 2011 after its old terminal was converted into a cargo terminal. On October 11, 2013, a cold storage facility was installed. Since the launch of cargo operation, the consignments have only been getting bigger. During 2102-2013, 2,400 metric tonnes of export cargo passed through the terminal. The following year, it increased to 4,715 metric tonnes and has since touched 6,500 metric tonnes, according to available data with Airports Authorities of India. When contacted, senior Air Asia officials at Trichy airport said they have been asked not to book any consignments till further notification. However, according to sources, an issue over the General Services Agreement pertaining to monetary settlements and appointment of staff for the Indian subcontinent and other areas in Kuala Lumpur, has led to the airline's decision in this regard. Air Asia lifts cargo mostly to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur. Till February, the cargo terminal clocked 6,366 metric tonnes. Officials say that the imbroglio in GSA for cargo sales will last another fortnight thereby drawing this fiscal to a close without achieving the desired target. Courtesy: Times of India

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