AFS: Enhancing efficiency & security of export cargo

CCPL has launched the country’s first RA-3 accredited greenfield Air Freight Station (AFS) at Indira Gandhi International Airport to provide efficient, and cost-effective air freight services. As international trade continues to evolve, AFS will play a significant role in facilitating smooth flow of goods and driving growth in export sector.

CT Bureau

AFS Conception

Continental Carriers’ Pvt. Ltd., (CCPL) founder late T.N. Vohra conceived the idea of AFS at a time when the concept of cargo handling/processing at an off-airport location was unknown in India. Although a successful model in other countries, we, in India, only dreamt about having an off-airport cargo terminal where the export cargo could be handled/processed before it gets transported to the air cargo terminal in ‘ready for carriage’ condition for delivery to the respective airlines.

The vision for launching India’s first RA-3 accredited green field AFS is to provide an efficient and cost-effective air freight services to its customers worldwide. The company’s objective through AFS is to revolutionise air cargo handling in India, leading to decreased logistics costs for companies.

Latest infrastructure

All the security equipment such as ETD, X-ray machine, among others are BCAS specified for screening of the export cargo at AFS. This ensures the cargo undergoes thorough security checks by trained professionals, meeting both national and global security standards. The use of close-bodied bonded trucks enhances the security of the cargo during transportation.

This is a critical consideration, especially for high-value or sensitive shipments, as it reduces the risk of theft or damage during transit. Its compliant with international certifications, and efficient cargo handling. The CCPL conducts sustainable export cargo operations to enhance operational efficiency. One key aspect of sustainable export cargo operations is the optimisation of logistics processes to reduce carbon emissions.

This includes load consolidation, which is one of the major activities of the AFS. Right from the acceptance of export cargo, its clearance/processing by customs and transfer of documents/details to CTOs at IGI Airport, all operations are digitalised. Collaboration with stakeholders across the supply chain is crucial for sustainable export cargo operations. By working closely with shippers, freight forwarders, and regulatory authorities, AFS can implement best practices and standards that promote sustainability throughout the export process.

Future growth prospects

Establishing an AFS can bring several benefits to the export cargo and logistics industry in the coming years. These are as follows:

AFS facilitates streamlined processes for handling, storing, and transferring air cargo. This efficiency can lead to quicker TAT, reducing delays in export shipments. With an AFS in place, there is a dedicated facility for handling air cargo, which can help alleviate congestion at airports and improve overall capacity for exporting goods. AFS adheres to strict security protocols, ensuring the safety of goods.  AFS will serve as key hub for linking various modes of transportation, including air and road. This connectivity can enhance the overall logistics network, making it easier to move export cargo to and from different regions of tier II and III cities. The AFS will offer value-added services such as packaging, labelling, and consolidation.

These particular services can help exporters customise their shipments, according to requirements, ultimately adding value to their offerings. By optimising processes and leveraging economies of scale, AFS can help reduce costs associated with the air freight logistics. This can make exporting more affordable for businesses, potentially increasing their competitiveness in the global market. Overall, the establishment of an AFS can bring
benefits to the export cargo and logistics industry by improving efficiency, increasing capacity, enhancing security, and providing value-added services.

Enhancing EoDB

Establishing an AFS near an international airport can boost ease of doing business, enhance operational efficiency, and cut costs for several reasons:

Proximity to airport: Having a freight station near the airport reduces transit time and logistics costs associated with transporting goods to and from the airport. This proximity streamlines the supply chain and reduces the risk of delays or damage during

Faster clearance processes: With an AFS located near the IGIA, Customs clearance and other regulatory procedures can be expedited. This can lead to faster TAT for shipments, reducing waiting times and overall logistics costs.

Competitive advantage: Companies located near the airport can capitalise on their proximity to offer faster delivery times and reliable services compared to competitors located farther away. This can enhance the company’s competitive position in the market and attract more customers.

Cost savings: The consolidation of freight operations can lead to cost savings through economies of scale. Bulk handling of cargo and shared infrastructure facilities can lower costs per unit.

Facilitated trade: An AFS can serve as a hub for global trade, attracting businesses looking to expand their global reach. The availability of facilities and processes can encourage foreign investment and foster economic growth in the region.

Reducing cargo congestion

Consolidation and distribution: The AFS will serve as consolidation point where export cargo from various shippers is brought together and prepared for shipment. By consolidating cargo at the AFS, airlines and airports can streamline the handling process, reducing the number of individual shipments passing through terminals. This minimises congestion and improves overall efficiency.

Off-site processing: It will handle various tasks associated with cargo processing, such as documentation, labelling, packaging, and customs clearance. By performing these tasks off-site, cargo can be processed more efficiently, allowing for quicker turnaround times at airport terminals. This helps reduce congestion by minimising the time cargo spends within the terminal facilities.

Specialised handling: AFS has specialised equipment and facilities to handle specific types of cargo—perishable goods and hazardous materials. By utilising these specialised facilities, airlines and airports can ensure that cargo is handled safely and efficiently, reducing the risk of congestion caused by delays or mishandling of sensitive shipments.

Quality certifications for AFS

RA-3: M/s CCPL has been approved as RA-3 by European Union and the United Kingdom. It is the first AFS in the country to be RA3 certified, qualified for transportation of air Cargo into the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) directly from a third country airport (India).

C-TPAT: Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a voluntary initiative by the United State Customs and Border Protection in partnership with the business community in order to improve supply chain and curb terrorism. It is a documented process for determining and alleviating risk throughout their international supply chain. This allows companies to be considered low risk, resulting in expedited processing of their cargo, including fewer customs examinations.