India pursues airfreight development, HYD announces plans to double capacity

Today, Indian authorities announced that Indian airport operator GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. (GHIAL) – a joint venture company established between the GMR Group, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Government of Telangana and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad – is in the process of doubling its cargo handling capacity at Hyderabad International Airport (HYD) over the next several years.

GHIAL currently handles 150,000 tonnes of cargo annually at HYD, despite the fact that its facilities were designed to handle only 100,000 tonnes, according to New Indian Express. Chief executive officer of GHIAL, SGK Kishore, told local reporters that HYD is currently able to operate past design capacity due to its efficient operations, and that with the new expansion, cargo capacity will double from 150,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes. The facilities will be built on a 100-acre parcel adjacent to the GMR Aerospace & Industrial Park.

GHIAL is conducting a study at HYD to determine the types of cargo and facilities that will be necessary to support cargo flows at the airport. Details and timelines for construction have yet to be determined, but the company anticipates that the terminals will be equipped to handle perishables, biopharmaceutical and express cargo. Kishore said that cargo throughput at HYD has increased around nine percent year over year in 2018, and that 50 to 60 percent of this growth was attributable to pharmaceutical goods.

HYD has one cargo terminal and two runways and is located in the south Indian state of Telangana. Carriers with cargo routes to the airport include Blue Dart Aviation, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines. GHIAL and U.K.-based aviation services company Menzies Aviation jointly operate HYD’s cargo terminal, which includes a temperature-controlled pharma zone.

Separate from the HYD cargo terminal, GHIAL operates its GMR Aerospace & Industrial Park, which covers an area of 11,000 square meters. The Park has a 250-acre special economic zone, which includes a 20-acre Free Trade and Warehousing Zone, as well as a domestic tariff area. According to GHIAL, GIFTZ is the only airport-based FTZ in India. Its facilities include warehouses for exports, imports and domestic inbound and outbound cargo and freight forwarders, as well as a temperature-controlled warehouse for the storage and handling of export pharmaceuticals. There are also three dedicated freighter aircraft parking bays, vehicle parking areas and a separate area for airline ULD storage.

The announcement to increase capacity at the airport signals a continuation of the Indian government’s airport infrastructure expansion efforts at all levels of government. On Jan. 15, 2019, the national government of India released its first-ever air cargo policy detailing strategies to develop airfreight infrastructure and policy to form hubs, so that India can become one of the world’s top five airfreight markets by 2025. Local authorities like the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), as reported by the Times of India, are supporting this nation-wide development by planning construction of several logistics parks, which in addition to the capacity expansion plans at HYD could help Hyderabad emerge as a top logistics hub in the nation.

India has long been in need of developing its airfreight infrastructure, so the drafting of actionable administrative policy could be the critical means to bolster the country’s rise as a major player in airfreight.