Bengaluru goes 'cool' with AISATS

Published: Monday, November 7, 2016

On the first day of trial operations, approximately 25 tons of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments were accepted at the AISATS COOLPORT for carriage onboard Cathay Pacific’s Dragon Air, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, leading to a commendable start

AISATS, a 50:50 joint venture between Air India and SATS Ltd, is a leading gateway services and food solutions provider in Asia.

As part of the Indian government’s initiative to upgrade its airports to world-class facilities and attract more airlines to fly into India, AISATS was formed with the vision to provide world-class airport services in ground and cargo handling that exceed customers’ expectations.

Since the start of its operations in 2008, AISATS has provided hassle-free and comprehensive solutions to its customer airlines in international airports at Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mangalore and Trivandrum.

Currently employing over 7,000 staff, AISATS offers end-to-end ground handling services such as passenger and baggage handling, ramp handling, aircraft interior cleaning, load control and flight operations, and cargo handling services for general, perishable, transshipment, express courier and special cargo.

In the past year, AISATS’ Cargo Airfreight Terminal in Bengaluru won the “Air Cargo Terminal Operator” for the 4th year running from the Indian Chamber of Commerce. AISATS’ customers also won various “best performing” station awards from their respective HQs as well. AISATS is ISAGO (IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations) and ISO 9001:2008 certified

It was another first in October this year when AISATS commenced trial operations of India’s first integrated on-airport perishable cargo handling centre, “AISATS COOLPORT”, at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB).

The state-of-the-art, 11,000 sq. meter facility will meet the ever-increasing demands and handling requirements of temperature-sensitive cargo and will further enhance the State of Karnataka’s status as the pharm-aceutical and perishables hub of India. In an interview with Air Cargo Update, Mike Chew, CEO of AISATS gives details of the facility.

When you say ‘first integrated’ COOLPORT, can you please subs-tantiate on integrated?

Mike Chew: Spread over 11,400 sq. meter area, AISATS COOLPORT, at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, is a state-of-the-art dedicated perishable cargo hub. This one-stop-shop houses a complete range of facilities under one roof for seamless handling and storing of temperature-sensitiveimport and export cargo. The AISATS COOLPORT is fully equipped with a Drug Controller Lab testing facility, Plant Quarantine Inspection and Certification facility, as well as on-terminal Custom Clearances which cuts down processing time. It has 17 cold storage rooms with adjustable temperatures from -25 degree Celsius to 25 degree Celsius, to cater to the whole range of customized needs of perishable products like pharmaceuticals, flowers, poultry, etc.

How are the trials going on and when is it going to become fully operational?

Mike Chew: Trial operations at AISATS COOLPORT commenced on 1st October 2016 for pharmaceutical shipments and have been running smoothly, without any hiccups. On the first day of trial operations, approx-imately 25 tons of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments were accepted at the AISATS COOLPORT for carriage onboard Cathay Pacific’s Dragon Air, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, leading to a commendable start. Trial operations for other types of perishable cargo started on 17th October. AISATS COOLPORT is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year.

What are the unique features of the COOLPORT, not available elsewhere in India?

Mike Chew: AISATS COOLPORT holds the merit of being India’s first integrated on-airport perishable cargo handling center established with the vision to meet the ever-increasing demand and handling requirements of temperature-sensitive cargo, by providing modern cold storage infrastructure and processes to maintain an unbroken cold chain. It will enhance Karnataka’s status as the pharmaceutical and perishable hub of India.

One of the unique features of AISATS COOLPORT is being an on-airport integrated facility which is first of its kind in India. Apart from temperature-controlled storage, the facility also will house a state-of-the-art Drug Controller lab as well as a Plant Quarantine Inspection & Certification office. The facility houses dedicated X-ray machines for Pharma and Perishable cargo. AISATS COOLPORT ensures an unbroken cold chain by handling temperature sensitive cargo under controlled temperatures, right from acceptance, storage, buildup/breakdown, even while transporting between the terminal and the aircraft, through the use of custom-built Cool Trollies. These Cool trollies ensure temperature maintenance of the cargo during to and fro movement from the aircraft. In addition, the facility has dedicated charging points for envirotainers and other value added services such as Thermal Blankets, Dry Ice & Batteries available on request, thereby making it a truly integrated facility.

What is the current average dwelling time of perishables at BIAL and will COOLPORT make any difference in dwelling time?

Mike Chew: Perishable products at BIAL are usually shipped out and delivered immediately on a priority basis after completing the necessary documentation, customs formalities and build-up/break-down processes. However, in certain cases, the shipments are required to be kept in the cold storage for a day or more – as per stakeholder request.

Warehousing plays a pivotal role in freighting of the cargo and perishable goods need more care. With AISATS COOLPORT, cargo dwell time is still dependent on the abovementioned formalities, however, it ensures an unbroken cold chain, the temperature of the cargo is maintained throughout the handling which ensures the quality of the final delivered products.

You have mentioned that perishable growth has witnessed 15 percent CAGR, could you tell us which perishables are primarily driving this growth?

Mike Chew: The growth in perishables is driven by a mix of products, which primarily includes fruits & vegetables, pharmaceuticals and fresh flowers.

With the emergence of India as one of the top five pharmaceutical markets, witnessing an annual growth rate (CAGR) 13%, cold supply chain acts as the backbone for this industry as well. For the temperature and time sensitive pharmaceutical industry, it is mandatory to have accurate regulatory supervision and to maintain the efficacy of the drug throughout the supply chain. This is where AISATS COOLPORT will play an important role with the presence of a state-of-the-artDrug Controller lab at the facility.

Perishables require uninterrupted power supply, how have you met your energy requirements?

Mike Chew: At present uninterrupted power supply for AISATS COOLPORT is provided by the airport operator, and so far we have not faced any challenges in terms of power supply either at our Air Freight Terminal at Bengaluru or at AISATS COOLPORT. However, as part of our future plans, we are looking to tap clean & green energy, of which 135 KVA of power supply would be generated through solar energy, which again would be a first for an air freight terminal.

How much investmen has gone into the COOLPORT?

Mike Chew: AISATS COOLPORT has been established under ASIDE (Assistance to States for Infrastructure Development for Exports & Allied Activities) scheme of the Government of India. AISATS has invested close to $675,000 in the facility.