Delhi airport working to scale up staff at cargo terminal for faster clearance amid COVID-19 lockdown
During the lockdown period, only special flights, medical evacuation flights and those carrying cargo, including medical equipment, to and from different parts of the country are operational.
NEW DELHI: Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) is working with the customs department for deployment of more manpower at the cargo terminal for faster clearance of cargo amid lockdown and expected rise in shipments in the coming days, an official said on Friday.
The airport has been handling around two-dozen international cargo flights every day, including non-scheduled services like the one being operated under the government's LifeLine Udan scheme, since the lockdown on March 25 and subsequent suspension of all commercial passenger flights, DIAL said.
During the lockdown period, only special flights approved by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), medical evacuation flights and those carrying cargo, including medical equipment, to and from different parts of the country are operational.
Delhi Airport has two state-of-the-art integrated cargo terminals with a capacity to handle over 1.8 million MT of cargo annually, which is scalable to 2.3 million MT, besides a trans-shipment excellence centre at the airside, that helps it in a seamless movement of cargo.
"We have sought for support from Ministry Of Civil Aviation (MoCA) for getting special permissions for movement of trucks to and from the airport to carry essential goods.
Besides, additional warehouse space is being created at the Delhi Airport for holding import cargo.
"We are also pursuing with Customs for adequate staff at cargo terminals for faster clearance of goods as more such movements are planned in the coming days," DIAL Chief Executive Officer, Videh Kumar Jaipriar said.
The country' s busiest airport by passenger volume - Delhi Airport - also handled over 1-million MT cargo, the highest by any airport in the country in FY19.
The airport is handling 20-22 cargo flights per day (including non-scheduled operations), with freighters arriving from destinations like Doha, Paris, Hongkong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Incheon since the lockdown on March 25, DIAL said.
Additional warehouse space of around 5,000 square meters is being created at the airport for holding import cargo.
In addition to the cargo flights, the airport has also witnessed 3-4 chartered aircraft movements every day for handling medical equipment and relief material to and from Patna, Varanasi, Guwahati, Nagpur and Vadodra, which is expected to increase to 8-10 flights per day, based on necessary approvals obtained by the respective operators, DIAL said.
"Delhi Airport is functioning 24x7 to handle the international and domestic cargo movements for essential commodities including healthcare and medical supplies.
The cargo terminal operators are working tirelessly to manage the round-the-clock operations, following all guidelines of social distancing, sanitisation and health precautions," Jaipriar added.
The distribution of essential cargo across the country has been possible in conjunction with LifeLine freight flights of Air India and Indian Air Force, who have connected areas such as Dimapur and Imphal in the North-east, as well as other cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Vijayawada, Cochin, Hyderabad, among others, DIAL said.
During the lockdown period, around 19 lakh pieces of face masks, 2-lakh bottles of sanitisers, 1.5 lakh Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and 50,000 other medical equipments have been channelised across the country till date, it said.