First cargo flight lands at Mumbai Airport
It was a historic moment at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) last week when an aircraft carrying perishables arrived in Mumbai from Kabul, Afghanistan. This opened up a dedicated air freight corridor between the two cities, which was planned during the meeting of the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, and the President of Afghanistan, Mr Ashraf Ghani, in Kabul in September 2016.
The connectivity established through this corridor will provide land-locked Afghanistan greater access to markets in Maharashtra. Additionally, it will allow Afghan businessmen to leverage economic growth, enhance trade networks and offer Afghan farmers direct access to markets in western India for their perishable goods.
The inaugural Kabul-Mumbai-Kabul flight carried on the inbound 40 tonnes of fresh apples, and on the outbound 20 tonnes of bananas along with 20 tonnes of fresh tomatoes.
The current volume of trade between the two countries stands at roughly $350 million, with the aim of increasing it to around $1 billion in the coming three years. Major exports from India to Afghanistan comprise man-made filaments, articles of apparels and clothing accessories, pharmaceutical products, cereals, man-made staple fibres, dairy and poultry products, and spices, to name a few. The major imports from Afghanistan include fresh fruits, dried fruits/nuts, vegetables, oil seeds, precious and semi-precious stones, etc.
Earlier, cargo, mostly comprising perishable goods, used to be transported by road, which was impractical since it not only faced logistical problems but also added to the cost of the goods while passing through the various states.
The inauguration of the Kabul-Mumbai air corridor has received an overwhelming response from traders on both sides. With an expected increase in the frequency of cargo exchange in the coming months facilitated by Mumbai Airport, India and Afghanistan are on the threshold of becoming long-term trade partners.