Mumbai is the biggest and economically strongest city in India. At Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Lufthansa Cargo responds to the increasing purchasing power and the growth in cargo volumes with dynamism and flexibility.
Colonial buildings next to skyscrapers, Hindu temples next to mosques, luxury limousines next to bicycle and car rickshaws: Mumbai is a city of contrasts. With an estimated population of 14 million in its core and about 20 million in the whole of Mumbai, it is the biggest city in India. The Portuguese and later the British established their colonies and engaged in international trade here. Today, it is where the economic heart of the subcontinent beats. And it does so ever more strongly: India is one of the fastest growing economies, with annual growth rates of seven to nine percent. Particularly in Greater Mumbai, the concentration of companies from the IT, electronics and movie industries is immense. What is more, numerous Indian and international company groups have their branches or Regional Head Offices here. The seaport city in Western India handles 40 percent of the country’s foreign trade.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport plays a major role. In 2011, one million metric tons of cargo were handled by the international airport, where Lufthansa Cargo is represented by its own station. Zarir Kheshwala, who has been working for Lufthansa Cargo in Mumbai since 1991, heads a team of ten. “We mainly transport temperaturesensitive goods such as generic drugs or bulk drugs, APIs and also components for the automotive industry.”
Export handling of all general cargo is carried out at Lufthansa Cargo’s own facility measuring 500 square meters within the Airport’s “restricted-access” sterile zone and of the perishable “pharmaceutical” cargo within the newly built Center for Perishable Cargo, a “Common-User” facility. For Import shipments, due to local customs regulations, the handling, processing, intermediate storage and deliveries are through the airport’s common warehouse. Customers include internationally high-profile companies such as DHL Global Forwarding, DB Schenker, Kuehne + Nagel, Hellmann Worldwide, Penta Freight, Transline, Magnum Forwarders, Freightwings, etc.
In 2012, Lufthansa Cargo exported 15,000 tons of cargo from Mumbai. Belly capacity is available here on daily direct connections to Munich and Frankfurt. The cargo aircraft operates to the metropolis once a week via Hyderabad and Chennai and then flies directly on to Frankfurt. Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and Charlotte are the most important final destinations for cargo from Mumbai.
There is growth on the import side too: “We have stable rates of increase here, with a figure of 25,000 tons in 2012. Our share of the market has doubled from just under four to almost eight percent,” says the General Manager Western India. The increased demand from products from abroad mirrors the social change. “The illiteracy rate is falling and a growing number of people speak English. As Mumbai offers good conditions for business, the employment rate is relatively high and favors the growing development of a middle class that has purchasing power.”
Nonetheless, Kheshwala also sees challenges that could jeopardize further growth in air cargo through Mumbai: “The volumes of cargo have increased, but the necessary infrastructure is no longer sufficient. Adjustments are urgently required here.” Progress has been made in this respect by improving the connectivity to the island city and to the periphery of Mumbai, where most of the industries are located. Kheshwala is optimistic when he looks to the future: “Just as Mumbai has repeatedly overcome adversities, such as the bomb blasts and terror attacks and the floods, and renewed itself, we at Lufthansa Cargo are also constantly striving to meet challenges and to grow even further.”