A look at the inception and growth of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata and how Airports Authority of India (AAI) has managed to effectively implement initiatives making this airport a success story.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (NSCBIA) in Kolkata, West Bengal, serves the Kolkata metropolitan area. It is located approximately 17 km (11 miles) from the city center. Spread over an area of 2,460 acres, Kolkata airport is the largest hub for air traffic in the eastern part of the country and one of the two international airports operating in Bengal, the other one being in Bagdogra. The airport handled over 15.8 million passengers in fiscal year 2016-17 making it the fifth busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic after Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. The airport is a major centre for flights to north-east India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Southeast Asia. In 2014 and 2015, Kolkata Airport won the title of Best Improved Airport in the Asia-Pacific region awarded by the Airport Council International, which is a feather in the cap of AAI as they own and operate the airport.
Cargo in Kolkata – the beginning
The Cargo Terminal at NSCBIA was commissioned on October 5, 1975. The international air cargo complex is located 1/2 km north of International Terminal building with well-connected road infrastructure for smooth functioning of air cargo services.
It has facilities for processing of import, export, transhipment , unaccompanied pax baggage and domestic cargo. With the concept of Integrated Cargo Terminal, various agencies were brought under one roof to facilitate quick processing/clearance of cargo.
Modernisation of cargo facilities
In September 2012, AAI upgraded the airport’s cargo-handling capacity, enabling it to cater for the demand until 2020. There has been a 25 pc growth in international cargo movement to and from Kolkata airport and a 15 pc increase in outward transit. Automobile parts accounted for the bulk of the growth in the movement of cargo from the city to other countries. In November 2008, the first Centre for Perishable Cargo (CPC) in West Bengal was opened at the airport. The CPC has an area of 7,992 sq ft and an annual storage capacity of 12,000 million tonnes. The CPC had been undergoing trials that started in June 2008 and was built with INR 67.5 million grant-in-aid from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) part of the Commerce Ministry.
There are four parking bays exclusively for freighter fleet, which can accommodate up to B-747 type of aircraft. AAI has created this air cargo terminal with various facilities for processing air cargo in the terminal building at par with any international airport. All airline agencies and other agencies, which connected with the clearance and pre-shipment formalities, are in-housed in the air cargo complex.
AAI was appointed as a custodian of import and export cargo as per custom notification 2/78 under section 45 of Customs Act, 1962. Most of the regulatory and facilitation were established under one roof. The cargo terminal has five wings for processing of export, import and unaccompanied baggage (import), transhipment and domestic cargo besides disposal unit for disposal of unclaimed/uncleared cargo.
Kolkata International Air Cargo Terminal provides air cargo services to entire eastern and north-eastern region for transhipment cargo. In international freight transactions it connects six regions in the world – southAsia, South-East Asia, western countries, Middle-Eastern countries and Central Asia. Cargo could be cleared either by self or by a licensed Customs House Clearing Agent (CHA). No demurrage charges are levied on cargo if cleared within prescribed free period. A CPC with a handling capacity of 60 million tonnes is operational. Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) is in position with 1,940 bins. An Elevated Transfer Vehicle (ETV) with 70 Nos of ULD Stacker Slots is also in place in the Export Wing of the Cargo Terminal.
The growth potential of Cargo at NSCBI Airport, Kolkata depends on opening of more traffic via new destinations and industrialisation of the state of West Bengal. Efforts need to be put in to convert Kolkata into a major hub catering to the entire SouthEast Asia and further to Europe and United States of America. However, the expected growth in Kolkata is around 20 pc.
In this regard Cargo Terminals are being established at eastern and north-eastern airports so that cargo can move from these regions to Kolkata for their international destinations.
AAICLAS has already commissioned the Domestic/International cargo facilities at Raipur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Bagdogra, Guwahati airports and the similar process is underway for Imphal airport.
New International Cargo Terminal Specifications
Total area: 39,150 sqm out of which covered area is 22,585 sqm
Covered area of import: 14.085 sqm
Covered area of export: 8,500 sqm
Annual handling capacity: 100,000 million tonnes out of which cargo handled during 2016-2017 was 60,910 million tonnes.
Integrated Cargo Terminal Objectives
To provide hassle-free services to the users of the Cargo Terminal
Quick deliveries as per Citizen Charter
AAIs role is to provide Integrated Cargo Terminal as a common user facility
Make available all regulatory and facilitating agencies under one roof
Automation in Cargo Handling.
ETV in export wing
ASRS in import wing
CPC for perishable cargo.
Computerisations of cargo handling operations
Cargo Handled During the Year 2016-17
Export Cargo: 37,758 million tonnes
Import Cargo: 23,152 million tonnes
Domestic Cargo: 34,641 million tonnes of incoming and 36,987 million tonnes of outgoing