THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The evacuation flights have come as a blessing in disguise for exporters as the flights of Air India Express have now been airlifting around seven tonnes of cargo in every outbound evacuation flight to various destinations outside the country.
After the lockdown, there has been a three-fold increase in freight charges with airlines which customised their passenger compartments to meet the requirement of cargo transportation, charging around Rs 150-200 per kg for cargo against the normal charge of `70 per kg, which has dampened the spirit of the exporters.
Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had allowed passenger flights to ferry cargo with strict riders like the airline has to make sure that the cargo is in approved stowage locations such as closets and overhead bins in passenger compartment, provided the load limitations are met. Following this, Indian and even foreign carriers have pressed their passenger flights for cargo operations.
Air India Express, which has also received DGCA approval, has been trying to make use of this opportunity to keep their fleet in the air. However, the freight charges are relatively high when passenger flights are pressed into service for cargo operations.
The airline has shipped over 200 tonnes of vegetables, fruits and other perishable items to the Gulf in the lockdown period starting from April 16 to 30 with two aircraft being pressed into service per day on a rotational basis.