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Now, a dedicated air cargo service for Northeast

The landlocked Northeast region of the country is expected to get a dedicated air cargo service soon, to cater to the business community’s needs for fast movement of goods to and fro. Mumbai-based Sovika Aviation Services said on Sunday it would launch a dedicated cargo airline service to cater to all major airports of the northeastern states from February 2015.

Speaking to Business Standard, Hemant Anand, vice-president of the company, said although there was huge movement of goods to and from the Northeast at present, there was no daily dedicated cargo airline service for the region. “Most likely by mid-February next year, we will be starting this cargo and freight service. We are very serious about this business and have done our homework well,” said Anand. He was in the city to attend the North East Connectivity Summit, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The company plans to use an ATR-72 aircraft, which can carry eight tonnes of cargo, and fly to all major airports of the region such as Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal, Aizawl and Dimapur. Anand said since aviation engineering facilities are available in Kolkata, the service would be based out of here.

“I have visited several cities in the region in recent days to gauge the demand. The traders and businessmen I have spoken to are very enthusiastic on having a dedicated cargo airline service. We hope to carry at least 10 tonnes of cargo to and from the Northeast every day,” he added. At present, cargo from the region is carried by passenger aircraft carry, which handle about 20 tonnes of cargo every day. Anand said quite often, traders are forced to delay the movement of their cargo due to unavailability of space in passenger aircraft.

He said he had spoken to the chief ministers of Assam and Meghalaya and have sought the state governments’ support for the launch of the dedicated cargo airline service.

Speaking at the conference, Bhupesh Joshi, managing director, Clubone Air, said until and unless the state and central governments ease norms and licensing policies for the region, it would not be commercially viable for airlines to operate passenger aircraft on short routes in Northeast. At present, the region has 23 airports, among which 12 are non-operational.

“How long can we rely on subsidy route? The Airports Authority of India and the state and central governments need to sit with us on the table to understand our needs,” said Joshi.

REACHING OUT

  • Mumbai-based Sovika Aviation Services to launch a dedicated cargo airline service to the Northeast
     
  • Service to start mid-February next year
     
  • The company plans to fly to all major airports of the region such as Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal, Aizawl, and Dimapur
     
  • The service would be based out of Kolkata

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