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Retail boom to boost air cargo business: Patel

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Dec 5 (UNI) The boom in organised retail sector is likely to boost air cargo business across the country, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said today.

With a wide geography and rich diversity, he said, India is as big as a continent. It lies on the east-west corridor and is in advantageous position with southeast Asia on one side and the Middle East on the other.

''The economy is growing rapidly and we're laying down a clear vision statement for creation of a national grid with aviation infrastructure. In this, the cargo segment must realise its fullest potential,'' he said.

Mr Patel was addressing delegates who gathered here for a two-day meet organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The joint venture partner for a multi-nodal international cargo hub and airport project at Nagpur will be finalised soon, he said.

The government is also looking at raising the limit for foreign direct investment (FDI) in air cargo sector from 49 to 74 per cent, said Mr Patel.

''We are deliberating on the matter. While we have an overall FDI cap of 49 per cent in the aviation sector, we have to liberalise areas like air cargo, helicopters and sea-planes and the cap could reasonably put at 74 per cent.'' At present, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) handles international cargo at four metro airports -- Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, and at four non-metro airports -- Nagpur, Guwahati, Lucknow and Coimbatore.

Mr Patel said government-owned Indian (Airlines) proposes to convert five B-737 aircraft currently being operated by Alliance Air into freighter aircraft. These five aircraft are being considered to operate with hub and spoke pattern.

Indian plans to operate these freighter services with Nagpur as a hub and Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai (via Bangalore and Hyderabad) as originating stations.

UNI SU CS PM1449

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