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COVID-19 and lockdown period see Mumbai airport’s automotive cargo surpass pharma cargo

Mumbai airport's cargo facilitated the movement of approximately 360 tonnes of automobiles, handling over 180 cars between April 2020 and May 2021. Prior to COVID-19, pharma goods had the largest share of airport shipments at 26 percent while automobiles had 23 percent.

July 13, 2021 / 09:30 AM IST

As India battled against COVID-19 when demand for medicines and medical equipment went through the roof, the country’s second-busiest airport, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport Mumbai (CSMIA), saw automobiles emerge as the biggest sector in cargo movement.

Between April 2020 and May 2021, CSMIA witnessed a shift in the import and export of goods transported through the airport, with automobiles accounting for the highest movement, dominating 31 percent of the total volumes at the airport, followed by pharma goods at 29 percent.

The rest of the share came from electronics goods and engineering foods, agro-products and chemical goods. Prior to the pandemic, pharma goods had the largest share of airport shipments at 26 percent while automobiles controlled 23 percent, as per exclusive data shared by the CSMIA with Moneycontrol.

CSMIA cargo facilitated the movement of approximately 360 tonnes of automobiles, handling over 180 cars in the period between April 2020 and May 2021. Pre-COVID, CSMIA Cargo had facilitated the transportation of over 150 cars, handling over 270 tonnes of automobiles from April 2019 to the February 2020 period.

“Imports of automobiles poured in from destinations such as Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Prague and Stuttgart from airlines such as Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines during this time period. Carriers like Magma Aviation Freighter, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines, among others, are featured commonly in automobile exports to destinations like Frankfurt, London, and Sharjah”, CSMIA said.

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Among the brands exported via the airport, the most prominent movement at CSMIA included the export of the deluxe McLaren sports cars to Sharjah in December 2020. Another record included the shipment of 50 cars of brands such as Skoda and Volkswagen through Magma Aviation to Frankfurt in February 2021. This latest export has broken the airport’s earlier record of transporting 30 cars on a single carrier.

This record also came in at a time when the airport was busy with the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

While several luxury car brands, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and Lexus have assembly factories in India which produce cars from imported parts, several other brands import fully built vehicles for sale in India.

Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and some models of Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover, Jeep, Ford (Mustang) and Volvo are fully imported into the country. Mercedes-Benz even makes its flagship car, Maybach, in India for domestic and export markets.

CSMIA has allotted earmarked area to handle shipment of high-end automobiles for import and export. Moreover, the imports section has dedicated car off-loaders and storage equipment, while the exports have dedicated docks for seamless car movements.
Swaraj Baggonkar
first published: Jul 13, 2021 09:30 am
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