Madurai: Here is some good news for trade and industry in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. The Central government has allowed international freight movement from Madurai airport.
According to Madurai airport director K. Sangaiah Pandian, the Union finance ministry has issued customs notification dated May 28, 2013 to handle cargo at the Madurai airport. “All types of goods right from perishable to industrial and textiles can be exported. And, there is no restriction on quantity either,” Pandian told Deccan Chronicle.
To start with, the international flights operating from and to Madurai are expected to haul belly cargo (cargo stowed under the main deck of an aircraft). However, the notification permitting “unloading of imported goods and the loading of export goods or any class of such goods” also means exclusive cargo flights could also be operated.
“The master plan of the airport includes a cargo complex along with two additional terminal buildings, expansion of runway and other facilities. Hence, operation of cargo flights by airlines could become a reality in future depending upon the export potential of the region,” Pandian pointed out.
Madurai is connected by air only with Colombo. While Indian carrier SpiceJet operates daily flights to the Sri Lankan capital, mainly catering to the tourism sector, the Lankan government’s budget airline Mihin Lanka connects the Temple City with Middle East and Far East countries. “Mihin Lanka expects to carry at least two tonnes of cargo from Madurai per trip,” Pandian said.
Hailing the issuance of notification, the Tamilnadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the upgradation of Madurai airport as cargo airport would facilitate direct export of cargo from the southern districts. “Direct export of commodities through Madurai airport will substantially bring down the transportation cost and time and also help increase the quantum of exports,” said its senior president S. Rethinavelu.
Until now, textiles, handloom towels, fresh vegetables and fruits, especially from Oddanchathiram in Dindigul district, flowers, especially the famous Madurai malli, engineering goods, automobile parts, granite and medical equipment are exported to foreign countries through airports at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, in Kerala, and Tiruchy and Chennai in TN.