The Civil aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday said in the Rajya Sabha that air cargo has grown up to 19 per cent despite the Covid-19 pandemic.Responding to a question, he said that all Indian carriers entered a period of insolvency because of the Covid-19 but because of Atmanirbhar Bharat, Indian carriers are able to stand despite the pandemic. He also said that now the scheduled operators can fly from all destinations.Responding to the question of CPI Member John Brittas, the Minister further informed that in a period of two years, the Indian cargo traffic has grown to 19 per cent despite the pandemic which has enabled Indian cargo carriers to stand on their feet.Noting that air cargo business will be doubled in next few years, he further said that 90 per cent of the cargo business is done through the scheduled cargo operators while only 10 per cent by the non-scheduled operators. Ninety eight per cent of the cargo is coming from six major cities of the country.Scindia also informed the Upper House that out of total cargo business in India, 81 per cent is carried by the foreign carriers while the Indian carriers carry 19 per cent only and only eight Indian freighters were in this business but in the last three years, the number of Indian freighters have gone up by three fold.
Air India has modified its planes for belly cargo and the 'Passenger to Cargo' system as 71 per cent of the cargo is carried in the belly of the aircraft.The revenue of the air cargo has gone up from over Rs 1,400 crore to Rs 2,000 crore and is likely to increase fast in next few years.The Minister, while replying to the question of SAD Member Naresh Gujaral that Indian carriers allegedly refused to pick up cargo at many airports including Delhi, said that this was not correct that Indian carriers are not taking up the consignments of the exporters. It may be due to some technical issues for a day or two but they are picking up cargoes including that of Indian exporters.Replying to TMC MP Dola Sen, on the jobs being lost in the aviation sectors, Scindia said that the aviation sector is a job multiplier which creates job opportunities three times more than other sectors.
He also informed us that since the last six years, 66 new airports have been added and by 2023-24, we will have 225 airports in the country.Responding to the query of the former civil aviation minister Praful Patel of the NCP, the Minister said that it was true that the flight services from the smaller cities under UDAN scheme do not have better connectivity with metro city airports as the all major airports are functioning on its optimum capacity including the Delhi airports. "We are trying to further enhance the operating capacities of major airports and soon the Delhi airport which has a seven crore passenger traffic will increase to 10 crore and also a new airport is coming up at Jewar which will address these anomalies from the regional connectivity schemes.Scindia also informed RJD MP Manoj Jha that the negotiations with the Defence Ministry is on to use Air Force or Indian Navy's airstrips for commercial operation and under this the Air Force's Purnea (Bihar) air strip will also be opened for civil flights.