Indian Air Cargo Industry’s pace of change driven by ACFI Annual Conclave 2023

The theme for ACFI 2023 was “Cargo Udaan- Connecting and Empowering Indian Skies,” with a focus on leveraging innovative technologies, integrating processes, adopting global best practices and preparing for the expected increase in demand for air cargo in the post-COVID world.

The success of the event was the result of the hard work and collective efforts of the forum’s ACFI Governing Board and Event Management Task Pillar members, led by Yashpal Sharma, ACFI President, with assistance from Satish Lakkaraju, Chairman ACFI Event Management Task Pillar and Global Head of Air Freight, WIZ Freight.

The event was graced by the presence of senior government officials as guests of honour, including Jivisha Joshi, Deputy Secretary, DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry), Divya Satija, Senior Leader, DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry), and Piyush Srivastava, Senior Economic Advisor (Ministry of Civil Aviation).

The event brought together the entire Governing Board of ACFI, past presidents of the forum, and various stakeholders in the air cargo logistics and supply chain trade, including senior government dignitaries, airlines, airport operators, cargo terminal operators, freight forwarders, sales agents, other trade associations and express industry professionals.

The conclave covered three business sessions that highlighted the various possibilities, opportunities, challenges and action items for the Indian skies to reach 10 million tons by 2030–31. The sessions emphasised key topics: “Air Cargo: The Business Galvanizer,” “Internal Air Cargo: Opportunities and Challenges,” and “Domestic Air Cargo: Leveraging the Potential of Indian Domestic Cargo.” These were moderated by senior leaders like Satish Lakkaraju, Chairman, Event Management Task Pillar, and Global Head of Air Freight, WIZ Freight; Sanjiv Edward, Vice President, ACFI & CEO – Cargo and Logistics, GMR Group along with Keku Bomi Gazder, ACFI Governing Board Member, Managing Director, and Chief Executive Officer, Aviapro Logistic Services.

The ACFI Annual Conclave 2023 also featured a strong line-up of eminent speakers, including Glyn Hughes, Director General of TIACA, Sudhanshu, Secretary (APEDA), Pradeep Panicker, President & Chief Executive Officer, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited, Sadhika Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Lynkit Solutions Private Limited, Kunal Bhatt, Consultant Cargo, Commercial, TATA Air India, Vipul Bhalla, Chief Business Officer, Pradhaan Air Express, Mark Sutch, Chief Commercial Officer – Cargo (International), IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Limited), Ramesh Mamidala, Head Cargo Commercial, Air India, Arun Chandra, Assistant Vice President – Aviation Business, Bangalore International Airport, Ravi Prakash Mathur, Vice President and Global Head of Logistics and Supply Chain Excellence, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Ajith Pai, Chief Operating Officer, Delhivery and Kamal Hingorani, Chief Officer – Cargo, SpiceJet.

During the conclave, Piyush Srivastava, Senior Economic Advisor (Ministry of Civil Aviation), stated, ‘’India is poised to take its position as the 3rd largest aviation market, especially in the cargo sphere. We are just coming out of the storm of COVID, when we were hit by the ATF prices, and we are trying to bring down the VAT. So far, we have succeeded in 17 states, and the journey is on to successfully cover other states. MoCA is bullish on the creation of transshipment hubs, which will depend on the global economic scenario and how the aviation sector works. But it’s an exogenous factor. There is a need for many such hubs, including international ones, owing to India’s size and dimensions.

Krishi Udaan has a bearing on cargo for perishable commodities, especially in the Northeast, but now we have expanded this to 58 other airports. Freighters can deeply benefit from this. I would urge all stakeholders in Air Cargo to take advantage of the Krishi Udaan scheme.

Lastly, I would urge all pillars of ACFI to test their objectives on the teststones of doability and desirability, and then prioritise your short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals to succeed in times to come. I wish the association good wishes for their future efforts.’’

“ACFI has worked on various aspects to stimulate demand for air cargo and positioned various points that would be key for its growth. ACFI also hopes to continue its efforts to accelerate the pace of change and position India’s logistics landscape as a global leader in the air cargo industry,” said Yashpal Sharma, President of ACFI and MD of Skyways Group.

Sharma emphasised that air cargo has the power to galvanise businesses across the globe and prompted the shippers to put air cargo at the forefront of their transportation needs.

 ‘’The conclave brought together some of the best minds in the Indian air cargo industry and addressed the most critical challenges and opportunities in the market. ACFI as a forum aims to work on the strengths of the air freight industry, managing the nuances of international air cargo and leveraging the potential of domestic air cargo,’’ commented Satish Lakkaraju, Chairman, ACFI Event Management Task Pillar, and Global Head of Air Freight, WIZ Freight.

The conference highlighted the need for India to build and improve its current infrastructure, connect Indian airports to shippers through modern highways and local connectivity, integrate different modes of transport, adopt innovative technologies, simplify regulations, and invest in skill development.

The ACFI Annual Conclave 2023 was a resounding success and provided a platform for various stakeholders to come together, share their experiences, and collaborate to drive the growth of the Indian air cargo industry. ACFI Conclave 2023 was an essential step towards connecting and empowering Indian skies to become a significant player in the global air cargo industry. The event also provided a platform for stakeholders to network, collaborate, and explore new business opportunities.

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