The impact of the tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump on air cargo from India is yet to be fully assessed. The government, it is reported, is awaiting the US response to the arms deal. US tariffs, the air cargo sector hopes, will not touch pharma exports.
Other than ecommerce – the mainstay of domestic cargo carriers – it is pharma that is helping the country’s air cargo sector record high tonnages. Not without reason since the international pharma market is not only growing but also holds potential — roughly three per cent of the air freight revenue of the aviation industry. As Shankar Iyer, Head of Cargo Africa, Middle East & India, Swiss WorldCargo, mentioned some time ago pharma shipments were of “significant importance to the entire air cargo industry – both from a strategic point of view and as a source of revenue”.
The growth potential apart, a major issue that remains a source of concern is the lack of care that pharma is subjected to. To begin with there is the lack of infrastructure and adhering to regulations. According to ICRA, India could lose the momentum if the cargo handling capacity at airports are not enhanced by around two million tonnes over the next five years.
While carriers have been starting flights – the latest being the twice weekly Turkish Cargo flights touching Bengaluru, that has “a high annual export potential of 170,000 tonnes” including pharmaceuticals